Designer Diary | WARLINE: Maneuver Strategy & Tactics

A look inside the making of WARLINE: Maneuver Strategy & Tactics
 Thumb up

The Vision Guide for Designing Warline

Justin Leingang
United States
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Meet me on the battlefield!Microbadge: Wargamer of 5+ yearsMicrobadge: I love baseball!Microbadge: Belgian beer fanMicrobadge: Train Gamer
Below is a copy of the vision guide for the Warline: Tactical Fantasy Battles game design. I used (and still use) this guide as a lighthouse during ideation, iteration, and decision making throughout the game design process.

I really like establishing a vision guide at the outset of designing a new game. I find that a vision guide is a powerful lens that helps keep my ideas cohesive, my iterations clean, and my decisions cogent. I am sharing this guide in hopes of giving you a clear picture of my intent with the Warline game design. Hopefully, this insight will help you become more directly engaged with the other entries in mys Warline designer diary blog.

Vision Guide
WARLINE: Tactical Fantasy Battles

Warline combines the prominent features of fantasy wargames and abstract strategy games to deliver an accessible, fast, and furious expression of battlefield combat.

What features act as the heartbeat of fantasy wargames? These are the high points that I am trying to weave into Warline.

* Variable unit capabilities (maneuverability, combat power, tactical options, etc.).
+ Each Warline army's general has a unique "Battle Art", allowing each army to tap into exclusive tactics. Additionally, Battalions have varied capabilities in combat and maneuvering.

* Unit capabilities can change as a consequence of outside forces.
+ As Battalions (Warline's equivalent of units or squads) are attacked and lose strength, they gain maneuverability--their tactical strengths and weaknesses fluctuate.

* Tactical opportunities are not restricted by arbitrary rules.
+ As much as possible, the theme of fantasy war drives Warline's game and play mechanics, not rules for the sake of rules.

* The tactical possibilities matrix is both broad and deep.
+ Battalion's fluid maneuver capabilities and tactical action set, combined with your own strategic and tactical options (Maneuver, Stall, Sacrifice, and more), result in a near endless web of possibilities.

* A leader unit (e.g., a general or the like) can partially define an army’s strengths and weaknesses.
+ Each general's Battle Art harmonizes with a different set of tactics and strategies.

* Variations in terrain play a role in influencing tactical decisions.
+ Warline includes a number of terrain modifiers that can be applied to the battlefield. The modifiers affect Battalions' abilitiy to maneuver, and therefore the way you approach any given situation.

* Terrain variation possibilities can ensure that every battle unfolds in a different manner.
+ Terrain modifiers allow you to fully customize the battlefield, creating a theater of war that is both interesting and infinitely challenging.

* The game systems are highly expandable, with minimal risk of diluting or making obsolete the core game rules.
+ Warline's core rules are streamlined, but rich--and are expandable with a large number of official rules variants (of which you can mix and match to your desire), allowing you to add layers of complexity and challenge.

What burdensome features of fantasy wargames am I trying to address? I am trying to solve for these in order to keep Warline accessible to a larger, broader player base.

* Extremely long game time.
+ Played with just the core set and core rules, an average Warline game lasts around 20 minutes--but feels perfectly gratifying. Game times scale upward as you add more complexity by including official rules variants and expanding the size of the battlefield.

* Random outcomes can often nullify seemingly strong tactical decisions.
+ There are zero random outcomes in Warline. No dice rolling, no card drawing, no luck at all. In Warline, your desicisions and actions, and your opponents decisions and actions, are all that drive the game systems.

* Very large, often impractical, play surface requirements.
+ The core battlefield is 24 inches by 24 inches, with a little bit of vertical depth. This battlefield can comfortably on most common tables, but still feels substantial and "war-like" in scale.

* Expensive to get into and maintain, often prohibitively so.
+ Warline uses cost-practical solutions for the expression of a gorgeous play space and actors: Instead of expensive miniatures, Warline opts for detailed hand-painted illustrations to depict the warriors and the battlefield.

* Visual splendor in the game components is reserved for only the most dedicated and talented craftsmen.
+ Everyone's copy of Warline looks amazing: Battalions are illustrated with detailed fantasy war scenes, terrain modifiers are illustrated with lush landscapes, the battlefield is molded in a sleek modern industrial design. No painting or crafting required.

* Cumbersome rules that can take hours to learn.
+ Warline can be learned in 10 minutes or less.

What are the features serving as the lifeblood of abstract strategy games? These are the key ideas I am trying to elegantly merge into Warline’s fantasy wargame ideas.

* Combinatorial (i.e., no hidden information) game mechanisms and play mechanisms.

* Deterministic systems (no random number generation, no random outcome generation, etc.).

* Each turn resembles a tactical puzzle to be solved - a puzzle with no single superior solution.

* Clear, concise play mechanics.

* Transparent game mechanics.

* Relatively compact game components and play field.

* Employ a minimal number of game components to achieve maximal strategic depth.

What abstract strategy game features do I feel are less compelling? I am trying to mitigate these in order to more fully immerse players.

* Lack of a deeply integrated theme.

* Rigid, pattern-based movement rules.

* Snowballing advantages to one player or the other.

* Situations can often be overcome by means of relatively simple mathematical calculations.


Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Justin D Leingang

From gallery of ElJayPlay
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}