Joe Schmidt
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My submission for the 2019 Two-Player PnP Game Design Contest.



The Present Winter is a game about Washington’s Crossing and the Battle of Trenton that took place on December 25th and 26th of 1776 during the American War of Independence. The goal for Washington’s Continental Army is to cross the Delaware River and seize control of Trenton from the Hessians. The goal of the Hessian Mercenaries is to, with the help of the Elements, stymie the Continentals in their crossing of the river and to prevent the capture of Trenton.

Components and Rules:

Link to the Board and Cards

Link to Rules
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Jeremy Mease
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Re: [2019 Two-Player PnP Contest] The Present Winter: Washington's Crossing and the Battle of Trenton (WIP)
Nice, this looks very interesting!
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Joe Schmidt
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Re: (WIP) The Present Winter: Washington's Crossing and the Battle of Trenton [2019 Two-Player PnP Contest]
Game is component ready! Looking forward to hearing what you all think!
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Matt The GM
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I haven't played it yet, but some initial thoughts after reading the rules:
It would be really nice to have a labeled diagram of the board somewhere around section 4 of the rules. It took a bit of time and guesswork to identify each part of the board just from the description, a diagram would make that a lot easier.

Small layout note - the heading for section 5.0 needs to drop down 1 line so that it appears on the same page as the rest of section 5.0.

Section 4.1 - Road Connections mentions 4 Trenton Town spaces, the board only has 3. Is that a typo?

It looks like Combined Spirit and token/character spirit are 2 different things, is that correct? If so it might be clearer to change the name of one of them to avoid confusion.

One other thing that might be handy is a player aid with a list of the different actions available.

If you would like me to put together a mod for this for Tabletop Simulator I can do.
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Joe Schmidt
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Hey Matt,

I would LOVE it if you could put this together on table top simulator! Thanks for the notes, I will respond to these later. Cheers for looking everything over!

Joe
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Joe Schmidt
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It would be really nice to have a labeled diagram of the board somewhere around section 4 of the rules. It took a bit of time and guesswork to identify each part of the board just from the description, a diagram would make that a lot easier. Good point. I need to work on adding that to make things a bit clearer.

Small layout note - the heading for section 5.0 needs to drop down 1 line so that it appears on the same page as the rest of section 5.0. Done.

Section 4.1 - Road Connections mentions 4 Trenton Town spaces, the board only has 3. Is that a typo? Yes! Thanks for picking that up.

It looks like Combined Spirit and token/character spirit are 2 different things, is that correct? If so it might be clearer to change the name of one of them to avoid confusion. Spirit is the same in both cases. Can you point this section out to me so I can review and edit?


One other thing that might be handy is a player aid with a list of the different actions available. Good idea. I can work on this.
 
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Matt The GM
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With Joe's permission, The Present Winter is now available on Tabletop Simulator.
[url][https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=16442...]

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Joe Schmidt
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Thanks, Matt!
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Barry Kendall
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Got it, thanks, Joe. Trenton is a favorite of mine.
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Joe Schmidt
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I did an interview for The Player's Aid. You can check it out here (https://theplayersaid.com/2019/02/11/interview-with-joe-schm....
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P M
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Joe,

I printed everything up and gave your design a solo play through today. I think you have something interesting here. A nice quickly played game with a great theme. In my play through several questions came up and I was unsure exactly how to handle. Could you help me out?

1. Do continental leaders start on the board in the PA shore space with the rest of the units? or do they enter the game only when you perform a March action? This is unclear to me. Nothing said about them in game set up. Other things I read in the rules make me think they start on the board in the PA space.

2. Do continental leaders cross the Delaware like normal units?

3. Can you only have one unit on a river space at a time? So a max 5 american units could occupy the river spaces (one on each) before you would have to perform a river crossing action to clear the spaces thus allowing more units to occupy for the crossing.

4. When can you launch the assault on Trenton? It's a little unclear to me. In section 4.2 the rules say "At the beginning of the game, the Continental player must get their entire army across the river". It goes on to say "Once the Continental player has moved all of their tokens across the river to the Jersey shore, they may begin moving their advance on Trenton". Yet, it also says in the rules that "any officer or soldier left behind will deduct -1 victory point" at the end phase. So I am confused I guess. How can anyone get left behind especially if I cannot begin the assault on Trenton until ALL have crossed to the Jersey shore?

5. When playing the elements once I place "ice on the river" do those cubes stay on the board for the remainder of the game?

6. At what point do I conduct morale checks for "ice on the river"? Is it only during the elements turn? Or do I have to conduct a morale check each time the Americans enter a unit onto a "ice on the river" spot (even on the american turn)? then again perform another check, on the elements turn? this was not 100% clear to me. Exactly when do I conduct these checks?

7. After the elements conduct "wintry conditions" do they get these cubes back or are they lost for the remainder of the game once used?

8. During combat I was a little confused by what the rules said but I think the examples made it more clear. "the attacking player chooses a token to attack"? I'm a little confused by this? It goes on to say "The attacking player follows the same process for all of their remaining tokens on the card (what is "the card"), keeping track of all stress". Not sure about this either?

In combat, can't you just total up the dice for the attacker first... roll them all and add up hits, then do the same for the defender and compare?

Example: Americans have 1 leader, 2 units (3 total dice hitting on a 5+). they roll 3 hits. Hessians have a leader and 1 unit (3 total dice hitting on a 5+). they roll 1 hit. we then compare 3-1 Americans win. Hessians have to lose any combination of 2 cubes or spirit points.

Thanks for any clarification you can give me on this stuff. I hope I worded it so you can understand my questions. I really think you have a good game here. I am looking forward to further exploring this game, just want to make sure I am getting it right.

Pete
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Joe Schmidt
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Thank you so much Pete! Let me get back to you in detail tomorrow afternoon on my lunch break.
 
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Zach Edwardson
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this looks great.
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Joe Schmidt
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For questions 1 and 2 regarding the Continental Leaders:

The Continental Leaders start on the PA Shore with the other tokens, and must cross the Delaware like normal units.

For question 3 regarding the crossing:

Only one token is allowed per River space. So, the maximum number of tokens that can cross the Delaware during one crossing is five.

For question 4 this is just a typo, and I can make the necessary edits.

For questions 5 and 6 regarding the ice:

Ice stays on the river for the duration of the game. The only way it. can be removed is if a Continental token attempt to "break" the ice and enter the occupied River space by spending a movement action and passing a morale test. If the test is passed, then the Elements token is removed from the board and given back to the Elements player.

For question 7 regarding the Elements tokens:

The Elements tokens can be removed from the board, but never destroyed. Once they have been spent, they are returned to the Elements player.

For question 8 regarding combat:

That is a typo, need to fix it. But your example is spot on. The only additional thing would be if the combat took place on a Town space. If it did, then the defender would be allowed one preroll.

Example: Americans have 1 leader, 2 units (3 total dice hitting on a 5+). they roll 3 hits. Hessians have a leader and 1 unit (3 total dice hitting on a 5+). they roll 1 hit. we then compare 3-1 Americans win. Hessians have to lose any combination of 2 cubes or spirit points.


Let me know if you have any additional questions, and thank you!
 
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Jeff Warrender
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Ok, finally had a chance to give this a spin.

The subject is great and I think the two-stage way of realizing the concept is excellent. It's nice to find a clever and creative way to realize a small moment in history. Good show.

I'm not sure I completely understood the rules. I do think they can stand some pretty significant improvements.

It's confusing that flavor text stuff is interspersed throughout. Flavor text and theme stuff should always be in italics or a smaller font, and clearer separate from rules instructions.

Scoring is also confusing. It sounds like Continentals get 10 VP if they hold Trenton, less 1 for each soldier in PA, for each round, whereas the Hessians get 10 VP each round that they hold Trenton, plus 1 for each Hessian that escapes. Is this right? It seems like there's no way the Continentals can win, the Hessians will run up a 30 VP lead before the battle even starts!

I think the confusion is that you refer to the "End Phase" as something that happens each round, but maybe it only happens at game end.

Also, stress and spirit were very confusing. The rules say: "Once a token or character has reached zero Spirit, they are defeated and
removed from play." What? I thought spirit was the thing that is tracked on the team card. My sense was that each hit in battle eats away one spirit (as does failing morale in the river crossing), and once the spirit is gone, you have to start losing units when you incur hits. Anyway that's how I played but the rules were more confusing than they needed to be about this.


As to the game play itself. I think the river crossing is a bit simplistic but it's nice, we're jockeying a bit over whether the troops can all make it across the river. The elements don't have all that much control, but I take it (the rules don't seem to say) that once a river space is hit with ice it can't be used further, so over the round the river starts to fill with ice and the player has to send all troops through a single channel. Although I don't see why they wouldn't do this anyway, just to reduce the likelihood of getting hit with ice: you minimize your footprint by using a single passage.

I think you could have done a bit more here with the player needing to move boats around to ferry troops and the elements having a bit more control to give more cat-and-mouse to the action.

The battle itself was a nice pivot but as far as I could tell, the Continental troops just march to the city and start pounding on the redcoats until the latter collapse. I don't see much up side to positional play here, since the continentals only win if they capture the city and the hessians only win if they don't. There's no way to get enough hessians out of the city to win unless the continentals can't claim all three sections, but that seems impossible.

I don't see a situation where, say, a lone hessian bolts and the continentals go chasing after him to keep him from escaping. Why would they ever do that? Their only goal is to conquer the city. So the board complexity seems beside the point. And, if the continentals get first round initiative (which they can't fail to do), the hessians can't move out into the "perimeter wall" towns to try to slow down the advance of Washington's troops.

I don't know, maybe there are some rules that didn't come through but I didn't see much opportunity for tactical play in the rules as they currently exist. Washington surrounds the city on his very first turn in the 4th round, and it's pretty smooth sailing from there. I do think the elements need to bloody him up a bit more, especially in the sense of forcing him to choose between officers and soldiers as to who gets across the river, because those officers and their ability to shuttle troops on land is enormously powerful. Without that maybe the hessians have more of a chance, but with it Trenton folds like a cheap suit.

I look forward to hearing about further development on this one. I think there's the raw material of something fun and historically thematic in this one, so I hope you'll keep working on it and push it along, there's definitely potential here!
 
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Jeff Warrender
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Oops, I just read the answer you gave to the previous question and I didn't realize only one unit could be on each river space. That is not clear at all from the rules and definitely changes things. It would make it harder to get the units all across compared to the way I played, which was to pile them up on one space and then empty the space every so often.
 
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Joe Schmidt
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Thanks for the comments, Jeff! The game is definetaly more of a narrative game than others I’ve done. I’m also noticing that a lot of the rules need clarification. Let me do some work on them and then I can let you know. Would love to hear what you think with some clearer rules. Especially around the Victory Point setup, which I’m noticing is not very clear.
 
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Thomas Honsa
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I really liked many elements of this game. I think letting the Hessian player control the elements in the first three rounds was great. The rules are a bit unclear on what happens to element markers at the end of each phase and round, though. I ran through a solo play and was uncertain exactly what to do with them.

Also, you may want to consider letting commanders move "free" with tokens across the river and through areas...perhaps on a one-with-one basis.

Just a few thoughts on a terrific game. Please consider taking a look over my entryGreat War - A 2-Player PnP Game I'd love to hear your feedback.
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