From feedback and observations we obtained from V1, our game organically evolved to the next level.
A major change was the decision to move to army sheets over individual unit/character cards. The decision to drop the individual cards was a tough one, and one that has resurfaced many times since. Stemming from our original desire to make an easy to access miniatures game, we liked the idea of being able to make your own army by mixing units from different races. But this limited how creative we could be with the flavour of each army, as it was very important to us that each had it’s own play style with unique strengths and weakness’. By focusing on the latter we were able to give each army a play style that was unique to them, with many of their abilities crossing over between units in a way we could not do before.
Power tokens were a big change too, this simple addition meant that we could give characters more powerful abilities, but ones that were resource managed which limited their execution allowing for a more tactical play.
We took this latest prototype to Dragonmeet 2014, this was our games first outing to a convention and with the help of the incredible PlaytestUK team, we had a variety of interest, including our fist young players, in one game an 8yr old instantly saw how his units worked together and destroyed with father with ease – it was amazing to watch 😀 Again, we took a lot away from the day and knew it needed more work, but we felt good about it.
Something that was mentioned early on by Graeme was the use of a proper game board, scrapping the measure/distance sticks for hexes or squares. I wasn’t originally keen as it meant yet a further step away from our original idea, but it was a sensible progression and I’m glad I finally saw the light. Taking inspiration from some of my favorite games I thought a modular board was the way to go, so I set about designing our hex based tiles. This was another big leap as movement, line of sight, terrain, distance and area effects had to be re-thought. But modular tiles meant that each game would be different, with tile placement being the very start of the tactical play.
We also refurbished how actions were managed. Our original approach was … overly complicated. So we took it out and replaced a much simplified version.
Another addition was the introduction of fate cards, these added another level to the combat and defence mechanics, allowing players to potentially manipulate the dice to avoid/bolster an attack.
With a very quick prototype turnaround we were ready for our next public outing to GEEK in Margate, we had our own table for the whole day and people lined up to play, if was by far the most uplifting experience we had with our game so far. The game went down well despite observing (oh so many) balancing issues, and the feedback we took away gave us the confidence to book our tickets for the UK GamesExpo, where we intended to show it off to publishers as well as have a gay ol’ time!
After a long drive up to Birmingham, we nervously walked around the bustling halls of the UK Games Expo with our pride and joy safely tucked under arm. We again enjoyed the benefits of signing up with PlaytestUK and had a great day of gaming before finally meeting up with Laurence from Wotan games. The hall was closing up and we were under threat of being kicked out so didn’t have long to pitch our game and have a quick demo, I have to admit, I was more than a little tense.
The game went well, I was eliminated early (as per usual) but Graeme and Laurence had a good battle. Despite our lacklustre performance as salesmen, things seemed to go well, and we were very excited, yet quite daunted, to hear the following words
“I like it, but how do you feel about it having a Norse theme?”
In fairness we had only been working on the game for around 10 months, but in that short time we had grown quite fond of the world we had created, each character had a history, each race had a back story, even the world had a back story. To be asked if we would be willing to re-theme our game was not something that had been on our radar before and was a lot to take in. We talked about it much that night and throughout the next day, and by the time we had our follow up meeting with Laurence/Wotan on the final day of the expo, we had decided that with a bit (turned out to be quite a fair bit) of work, we could make a Norse theme work. So with a shake of hands and an agreement to meet again soon with an updated game, both in theme and improved mechanics, our partnership with Wotan games was forged, and so was the birth of War of the Nine Realms!