- Jeremy Stoltzfus(jerdude)United States
This will be the first in a series of design diary posts from me. This one will focus on the journey from concept to published product, the following ones will focus on specific mechanics.
Back in 2014, after failing to gather a group of exactly 6 players for a Game of Thrones The Board Game session, I thought: “Man, I really wish this game didn’t need such an exact number of players to work correctly”. That’s the thought that spawned A War of Whispers.
For those unfamiliar with it, Game of Thrones features a set piece conflict between 6 warring factions. The battles start with the same exact state each time but can end up going in any direction. Along the way there is a fantastic amount of warfare, bluffing, backstabbing, intrigue, etc. It’s a fantastic game but without exactly 6 players - one controlling each faction - it falls apart. So what if you didn’t need a player for each faction? Who would the players be controlling if not the factions themselves? Well, since we’re talking about the Game of Thrones universe, the clear answer is: Varys. Everybody’s favorite Master of Whispers and spymaster. He is capable of shaping world politics without actually wielding any power at all. His power lies in his ability to manipulate these factions. So, in a War of Whispers, that’s essentially what you play: a secret society reshaping the world to fit your own ends by manipulating 5 major factions as they go to war.
Of course, it was a long road to get here, and the theme of that journey was: iteration. The first iterations were made from index cards and spare bits I badgered friends and family into playing. From there, I upgraded to printed prototypes and started bringing it to public playtesting events: Playtest Lancaster, UnPub, UnPub Mini, and Metatopias to name the bigger ones. In this phase it got played, critiqued, and refined by many other fantastic designers. Some of the best sessions I had were with Luke Peterschmidt and Jordan Martin from Fun to 11 who tore it apart and helped me build it back up again, and another with Curt Covert and a group of great designers at Metatopia who did the same later that year. It went through many iterations and slowly, gradually, it started shaping itself into a real game. A fun game.
This is about the time Game Salute got involved. I submitted it on their site and soon Dann May reached out to me requesting a copy. A few months later they played it at their annual company retreat and offered me a contract. I was thrilled, but I also knew what was coming: development. And what does development entail? More iteration! Fortunately, Game Salute has this down to a science. Once we got to this point, Dann spun up a copy on Tabletopia and we started playtesting it once a week every week. Each time with a different set of players and each week with a new set of tweaks and changes we made since the previous week’s test. This is where the game truly made the transition from a prototype into the final product.
And that brings me to today, as I sit here drooling over Tomasz’s amazing artwork and anxiously awaiting the crowdfunding campaign. In my next diary entries, I’ll get into the evolution and inspiration of some of the mechanics. In particular, the indirect faction control scheme, the area control elements, and the betting.
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- Gab PalAustralia
QLDTHE CAKE IS A LIE !!!
- Yes, that's the exact feeling I got as I investigated the game on your KS page. I felt this is the idea of playing the agents of Varys or Little Finger and pulling the strings. I really like it and look forward to the day my copy arrives!
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- Chris M(cmicha)United States
When might we see Design Diary Part Two?
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