Worthington Games Design Blog
Monday, December 18, 2006
From Prussia With Love...
Happy Holidays! Things are quite busy here as we are putting the final touches needed on Cowboys. This meticulous process should be done soon and the rest of the burden will be on the printers.
Just a couple bits of info before we begin today's guest column...
1. Our website is currently down due to server issues. We apologize for this. If you have any questions regarding holiday orders, game resources, or anything email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The holiday sale is still going on. When our site comes back up you can still get all of our current releases for $35.00.
Today's blog is a guest article by Ron Draker, the designer of our recently introduced "Prussia's Defiant Stand" We are extremely excited about Ron's Design. We thought that the best way to introduce you both to the game and him was to have him type a few words. So without further delay....
PRUSSIA'S DEFIANT STAND. a n introduction by Ron Draker
First let me say it's a real pleasure working with Worthington Games. The whole team has been very engaging, and I look forward to the final development. I started work on “Frederick’s War,” now "Prussia's Defiant Stand," in early 2005. I love block games and have played them for many years. The strategic level treatment of interesting historical periods, the fog of war, the simple but elegant rules, and the playability within one evening all appeal to me.
I chose the Seven Years War because it seemed one area of history that had not received a lot of attention and yet the circumstances, the battles, and the character of Frederick provide the elements for a great game of maneuver and tension. To be honest, I did not know that much about the period before I started design work. I bought several books and did a great deal of research on the internet and found the history even more fascinating.
PDS is a card driven and poin t -to-point movement system game. Those familiar with card driven games will find it easy to learn. The basic concepts are the same except some cards used for moving units, buying units, and adding steps to units or fortresses can alternatively be used to modify combat. There are six game turns in a year with the sixth being a winter turn with limited options and movement penalties. Players simultaneously reveal their cards for a given turn and the low card chooses who goes first. Prussia decides ties. Going second is very powerful in this game of maneuver because units can pass through each other as long as they leave a screening force equal to half round up of the enemy blocks present. With each non-cavalry unit suffering a step loss when out of supply, both players are driven to try to out maneuver each other.
The smaller Prussian army has the powerful Frederick unit and many of its infantry and cavalry units are superior to the more numerous allied units. Frederick can ta ke on armies almost twice his size, but must be careful not to get worn down with constant fighting. The Allies have overwhelming force. They find it challenging to bring to bear simultaneously, thanks to the "Frictions of War" table that randomly immobilizes leaders. I've seen many a game where Prussia was saved from certain doom because the French or Russian army didn't move when the Allied player wanted them to move. Frederick himself credited Prussia's survival to the ineptness of many of his opponents.
The game has continued to evolve for the better over the past few months. Beyond some cosmetic changes, the recent change I'm most pleased with is the new combat resolution system. Now each unit has a Combat Power rating that is multiplied by the number of steps. All units of a class add their total CP and consult a table where one die is thrown and the resulting losses applied to the enemy's units. No more fistful of dice to roll with potentially wild outcomes -- one si de hitting 90% or completely missing. This tends to even out the luck factor, and I feel is far more realistic. Almost all CP ratings are in factors of 5 so the math is simple. The reduction in die throwing also speeds up game play.
The supply rules have evolved to where fortresses can provide limited supply at the cost of a step reduction, unless already down to one step. This makes fortresses more important and gives players an incentive to add steps to their forts. There are very different Prussian and Allied strategies to master and subtle battle tactics to learn. I think players will find the game nicely recreates the feel of the Seven Years War in Central Europe without being too complex. For more information on the earlier design work, check out the game forum on Consimworld and Boardgamegeek. Stay tuned for more news and game reports.
Well there it is. We look forward to talking a lot more about this game soon. We will also begin taking pre-orders on this title very soon. So keep an eye out for that.
That is all for today. Check back later this week for some more art tidbits from Cowboys.