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Subject: Popular Front Expansion rss

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patrick stevens
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Greetings!

We're currently working on ideas for a Popular Front expansion. We'd like to publish something on a small scale that would involve maximum improvement to the game with minimum cost of components for production.

My original idea was to create 2 new factions: POUM and Union Militar. However an 8 player game is not the best idea as far as utility and actual play.
There were so many factions that they all cannot be represented, here is a list;
Republic: UR, IR, ERC, PSOE, UGT, PSUC, JSU, PCE, POUM, JCI, PS, UMRA, CNT, FAI, ML, FIJL, PNV ANV, STV, SRI
Nationalists: UME, AM, CM, CT, Requetes, Peleyos, Margaritas, Falange, OJE, SE, CEDA

With this in mind and all the player feedback, I have constructed an expansion deck. This will include 9 new cards for each faction, total 54.
The composition is not finished, so there is still time for further refinement and your ideas are welcomed!
Each faction will include some cards that are more specific to the historical distinctions and geographical opperations. Some factions will have more battle power (Falange and Comunists), some recruitment power (Carlists and Anarchists), and some more political power (Requettes and Socialists). The numbers on the cards are somewhat different for each faction and include zero, but they all should add up to 18 for each faction. This is in keeping with an even chance for each side.
So if you feel that there should be some number changes, that is fine but keep the total 18 for each faction. I have not added any higher numbers as I feel the leader (6) should be the most powerful card,
but that is not a necessary limitaion. Use your imagination and historical knowlege to get your input included in this project!
Find all the cards in the image section for Pop Front.
Cheers Pat
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Paul Incao
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This is great Patrick. Can you label each image file with the corresponding faction? I plan on playtesting this with my group.

-Paul
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patrick stevens
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They are already labeled as such. What about the backs, you just scan in from your decks?
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Brandon M
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This expansion looks like it will address the one thing I would have liked to see in the original game: variety in the decks/factions.

I will be following this expansion's development from a distance.

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Paul Incao
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patrick stevens wrote:
They are already labeled as such. What about the backs, you just scan in from your decks?

Yep. Will do.
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Cristian Cano
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In my case I like all decks to be exactly the same to allow balance between the factions. I'm afraid you could mess up the game unbalancing one in detriment of other if special powers comes to specific factions.

My efforts would be aimed to make another track to depict turn order (ala In the Year of the Dragon), so there is another track in which you can expend your "action points", could be named as "moral track". It would work similar than the political pool but you play the cards face up and sum the value to the "moral track", the order in that track determines the turn order for the next round, if two factions have the same "moral", the top round token (the last that arrive that square) wins the tie. After every round, the turn order is rearranged (but the moral track is not reseted!).

A new very little board is needed for the "moral track".

This would solve the only issue I have found in this brillant game (random determination of turn order), I think Popular Front would be perfect with a moral track.

So the new cards can contain some of them with the following text "Value 2: If played for moral consider this card as a 4" or "Value 1: put your moral token on top of the next one. You only can play this card if you are less than 5 spaces behind the next one". Please keep in mind that these cards text are only fast ideas that have to be polished.

Much in the same way than the original game, so you can use all the cards for moral but there are only few of them really strong for that pourpose.

I also would wish to try that in the first round in which turn order is randomized, there is a way to compensate players order like.

1st player: 4 cards
2nd: 4 cards
3rd: 5 cards
4th: 5 cards
5th: 6 cards
6th: 6 cards

But this is more a variant, and I should have tried it before I have posted here...

Please tell me what you think about my proposal in the moral track.

Sorry for my poor english blush but I have wrote this too fast because I'm at work ninja.
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patrick stevens
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Terrific ideas and terrific English!
Having never played In the Year of the Dragon I am not exactly familiar. I will read up on the rules. Napoleon's Triumph has a moral track and I have played that. The real trick is going to be to integrate these cards with the variant. The variant has "Requetés player may discard a card to move their marker to the beginning of the turn order, pushing the markers they leap-frog down the track." See what you can do to make this work fun and smoothly!
Pat
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Cristian Cano
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OK Patrick, if the variant is finished forget my thoughts but if not, please consider it, individual fight for the turn order could be a good improvement.

Anyway I love your game without my add.

Good luck.
Cristian.
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patrick stevens
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Not finished!
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Alexander Stevens
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What follows is a draft of the full set of changes for the expansion, reasoning behind the changes, and thoughts on how the rule changes will affect gameplay.

The Popular Front expansion will add nine new cards for each faction, one new power for each faction (based on Steve Rogers' suggestions!), and three major rule changes.

There have been two general goals of the design process: giving each faction its own unique feel and making the board more tactically interesting. Through the combination of their powers and new cards, most factions should have a unique mechanic for how to manage their cards. New rules regarding retreats and sea lanes will hopefully create more nuances in the board position.

The Falange have more raw military material than any other faction, and can feed their hand with even more by winning Political and discarding cards. They have no advantages for recruiting or winning Political, however.

The Requetes can sacrifice a card to move earlier in turn order, and have new Legionnaires cards that can overcome Partisans in single card battles and win victories before opponents can establish defenses.

The Carlists can consistently commit to Political, and their Propaganda cards cause and benefit from winning repeatedly. Their Spies cards can inform their or their allies' attacks.

The Communists have extra military material and the ability to plan ahead by making adjustments to their deck with their Comintern cards. They also have consistent defense by being able to draw a Partisan card each turn.

The Anarchists have strong recruitment power and the ability to overcome strong defenses. They can draw more cards by discarding pairs of identical cards (giving them an advantage for abandoning focus) and will want to manage their hand to cause this to happen as often as possible.

The Socialist cards become more powerful the greater their political commitment, and successful combats improve their political commitment.

New Rules:

Sea Lanes

Cities connected by sea lanes are not considered adjacent for the purposes of recruitment, though they still are for supply in combat. Completely isolated island cities may be recruited at, but two points must be spent for each recruitment.

When making an attack along a sea lane, combat works slightly differently. Immediately before Deployment, at the end of the Reserve phase, both players reveal any Sea Power, Aircraft, and Condor Legion cards from their reserves they desire. If the defender reveals more cards than the attacker, all cards are discarded, the attack fails, and the Political marker is moved one towards the defender's end of the track in celebration of the great naval victory.

This change makes the naval areas of the board functionally different from the land (and controlling both cities in Morocco makes it a recruitment zone!). Players should be much more hesitant to launch naval assaults without support, because the consequences of naval defeat are major. Although Sea Power cards are fairly rare, successfully defeating a naval assault is a big deal and players will be encouraged to manage these cards carefully.

Turn Order

(based on Cristian Cano's suggestion)

At the end of each round, the next turn's turn order is determined by each player's individual commitment to Political. The greatest individual contribution will go first, followed by the second greatest, and so on. Ties are randomized.

This change gives players control over the most random aspect of the game and makes decisions of what to play to Political slightly more interesting – sometimes you may want to move later!

Retreats

If a defender chooses to play no cards to a combat, they automatically lose the battle and may immediately move any units from the battle city to adjacent friendly cities. The attacker still immediately draws a bonus card as normal.

This change makes choosing not to play any cards in a defense a legitimate choice (where before the only common reason to do so was having a powerful defense card in hand desired elsewhere). This option being better will be taken more often, causing active players to draw more cards and make turns more exciting. The “trench warfare” stage of the game (where almost all potential lines of attack have recruited defenders) may arrive sooner with players able to bulk up defenses during others' turns – not sure if this is a good thing, but the new attack cards (such as Guerrillas, Separatists, and Moral Superiority) will help crack these stalemates. Players may also be able to plan farther ahead than previously possible without such a constant threat of their hands being drained on opponents' turns.

Card Choices Explanation

Each new set of cards has:

A total value of 18
Two old cards from the base game to strengthen the faction's focus
A set of the new 1-value cards: Fortification, Guerrilla, and/or Sea Power
Two unique card types to its faction

Falange

Falange (Fascists) – Foreign Support – After drawing a card for winning the Political phase, the Falange player may discard cards from their hand to search their deck or discard pile for one Artillery, Armor, Aircraft, or Sea Power card of equal or lesser value than the total value of the discarded cards, reveal it, and add it to their hand. If their deck is searched, it is shuffled.

4 Condor Legion: Cannot be eliminated from reserve. When deployed, look at enemy reserve and eliminate one card of your choice from it. (MILITARY)
4 Armor
4 Armor
1 Transport: If played for Muster, treat this card as a 6, but its
value can only be used for movement.
1 Transport
1 Fortification: Once deployed, none of your deployed cards may be
eliminated. (MILITARY)
1 Fortification
1 Sea Power: Treat this card as a 3 if deployed in a battle with at least one sea connection. (MILITARY)
1 Sea Power

Requetés

Requetés (Carlist Militia) – Highly Trained and Motivated – Each turn, after the turn order has been established, the Requetés player may discard a card to move their marker to the beginning of the turn order, pushing back the markers they skip.

3 Moral Superiority: Play from hand to make a tied battle a victory for any Nationalist attacker.
3 Moral Superiority
2 Legionnaires: Legionnaires cannot be eliminated from reserve. (MILITARY)
2 Legionnaires
2 Legionnaires
2 March
2 March
1 Guerrilla: Eliminate one enemy unit in a city that contains at least two.
1 Sea Power

Carlists

Carlists (Monarchists) – Political Influence – Before they draw cards, the Carlist player may choose to play one card to Politics at the start of their turn and draw one extra card.

3 Spies: Reveal all opponents' cards in Political or reveal one opponent's hand.
3 Spies
2 Propaganda: If Propaganda is in Political when it resolves as a Nationalist victory, it is not discarded.
2 Propaganda
2 Propaganda
2 Election
2 Election
1 Sea Power
1 Guerrilla

Communists

Communists (The Popular Front) – The Nobility of the Common Man – Each turn, after completing their actions but before drawing cards for the end of the turn, the Communist player may choose to discard any card in their hand to search their draw or discard pile for a Partisan card. If their draw pile is searched, it is shuffled.

5 Aircraft
4 Armor
3 5th Regiment: Cannot be eliminated from reserve. When deployed, eliminate one deployed enemy card of your choice. (MILITARY)
1 Comintern: Shuffle any number of cards from your discard pile into your deck, excluding Comintern cards.
1 Comintern
1 Comintern
1 Guerrilla
1 Sea Power
1 Sea Power

Anarchists

Anarchists (CNT/FAI) – Divided Focus – Once per turn, the Anarchists may discard a pair of cards with the same name to draw three cards from their deck.

3 Trade Unions: Recruit one unit in each of three different friendly cities.
3 Trade Unions
2 March
2 March
2 Separatists: During your next attack this turn, your opponent's unit value is considered to be one.
2 Separatists
2 Separatists
1 Guerrilla
1 Guerrilla

Socialists

Socialists (UGT) – Indoctrination – After winning a combat, the Socialist player may add one of the cards they played to the combat to Political instead of discarding it.

3 Solidarity: When Political resolves, Solidarity is worth +1 for every other friendly card played for Political.
3 Solidarity
2 Election
2 Election
2 International Brigade: Once deployed, International Brigade is worth +1 for each friendly card in Political. (MILITARY)
2 International Brigade
2 International Brigade
1 Fortification
1 Sea Power

The cards will appear on the Images section soon. Please comment and let us know what you think of these proposed changes!
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patrick stevens
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Posting of the cards is complete. You can find them in the images section.
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Alexander Stevens
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Tested Retreats last night! It felt like much more of a choice than it had been previously: card draw for the attacker was still pretty strong, but in certain cases like multiple units retreating or retreating to behind a river, retreats were able to establish a more effective defense.
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This expansion looks great!

Those new powers seem hard to make language independent, though...
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Steve Rogers
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I'm really glad to see the expansion take shape; the game is a favorite in our group and the attention to theme is spot on.

Paul and I have tried the new cards as well as the faction rules with our friends and found they enhance the players association with the factions without hampering the design one bit.

I look forward to adding the sea lane and retreat rules and incorporating the revised abilities. Thanks to Alex for asking for input, it's a treat to contribute.
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Alexander Stevens
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We've also run a few playtests over the last week. Without reposting everything, here are the changes we've made so far:

The Carlist player never used the Spies card, as it was generally more useful as a 3. We've swapped the effects and names of Propaganda and Spies (Spies is now a 2 with three copies, Propaganda a 3 with two copies) to make both cards more interesting.

The Carlist power was not very interesting, as the player would almost invariably use it at the start of their turn. Instead, the Carlists will now have the old Socialist power (which is also changing, see below). Once per turn after winning a combat, the Carlists can add one of the cards from the battle to Political instead of discarding it. This should combo well with the newly strengthend Propaganda.

The Socialist power was vastly too strong. Their power has been changed (untested as of yet) to better flex the advantage of their International Brigades. Now, after winning Political (but before the Requetes power), the Socialists may choose their position in turn order. This will let them move as early as possible but still after their allies so their IB's will be strengthened by their allies' plays to Political. Or let them move early if that's what they like, or much later to have more control over the next turn's Political. So many choices!

The Transport card for the Falange was close to useless. We're changing it to Airlift: Move one group of units up to 3 cities away. This movement may pass through enemy-controlled cities, but must end in a friendly city.

The Requetes Church card was never played for its effect. To try to improve it, its effect now lasts until the end of the round (which also combos well with their ability to move first). Church: Until the end of this round, tied battles are Nationalist victories.

The Communists never discarded cards to draw Partisans. To make this more enticing, the cost is now to discard a card from the top of their deck instead of from their hand. This should work against their deck's theme of improving their deck over time-- you can get Partisans in the short term, but to do so might sacrifice the quality of your deck in the long run.

Rules: It seems that retreating is still almost always a bad idea. In both games the Anarchists have become much more powerful than other factions because opponents retreated from Separatist attacks. To make retreating less disastrous, players will now draw a card immediately when the opponent retreats INSTEAD of drawing one at the end of the turn. Having the enemy retreat three times will not draw you more cards than you would get for winning the battles; it will only get them to you sooner.

To streamline the naval rules, sea lanes will not count for recruitment or combat supply (previously they counted for combat supply but not recruitment). Islands will now always be in supply.

We're also considering a huge change to supply. I've felt over the years playing this game that it's rarely worth trying to cut off enemy groups, as the number of cards necessary to isolate a stack in even the best of circumstances are almost always better spent simply attacking it. I have two ideas on this front, and lean towards the latter: one is to make out of supply units not count for combat value, and the other is to require a city to be part of a network of three cities to be in supply. A city does not need to be directly connected to two other friendly cities to be in supply, but one of the friendly cities it is connected to must be connected to at least one other friendly city (isolated groups of two cities are out of supply). Perhaps both changes!? I'd love to see players forced to defend their flanks from campaigns to devastate their supply lines.
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Alexander Stevens
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Further change:

New concept for the Falange deck to give it a different flow than the others. Their deck composition is now:

5 Aircraft
4 Armor
2 Production: Draw 2 cards.
2 Production
2 Production
1 Navy
1 Navy
1 Fortification
0 Airlift

Power: Industry: When the Nationalists win Political, the Falange player may shuffle all their Production cards back into their deck.

Now the Falange player will have the ability to generate a much more powerful hand, and place more importance on the outcome of Political based on how many Production cards are in their discard pile.
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Jonathan Franklin
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Any chance of an ArtsCow or purchasable version?
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Alexander Stevens
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We'll be publishing it as soon as we're reasonably satisfied with the feel/balance and write/format the rules. It might be ready in as soon as six weeks, and probably no more than... ten weeks? In the meantime, we'll begin accepting preorders as soon as we overcome the small problem of, uh, coming up with a name. :whistle:
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patrick stevens
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I am very excited about this expansion. After more playtesting I can say that there is more history, and flavor with the historic distinctions between the factions. Because of these distinctions, more opportunities for effective cooperation abound. There are many more tactical choices in battles, without being any longer. More realistic strategies can now evolve due to the new retreat and sea rules.
There is now more purpose for hand management without being tedious. There are only 2 new cards to memorize for each faction so figuring the odds is not that much harder. We found that there are one card battles more often now because of the increased flexibility in card usage , generally leaving more cards in hand to give the ability to use them a lot more effectively than before.
Both the new and base cards synergize well with the factional distinctions so that there is a distinct "feeling" for each faction and subtle ways of utilizing teamwork that weren't there before the expansion. So it greatly enhances the things that were already good about the game without being too much harder or longer. Equally important, it addresses the basic problems of "genericness" with the base game.
Thanks go out again to all those who have helped with this project! The name will be Popular Front Escalation.
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eric hogan
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Can't wait!
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THE REVENGE OF THE GOLDFISH
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Me too!!!!!!!!!
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Steve Rogers
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Great news! I look forward to seeing them in play soon.
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David Siskin
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I'm a future purchaser!
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