tirsdag 25. mars 2014

November 2013. Theme-development

I spent most of November working on the theme of the game. Trying to answer questions like who are these people fighting each other in this game, and why are they fighting? After some thinking I ended up with six siblings, controlled by the players, rivaling each other for the throne of a faraway medieval land. The backgrounds for these people, and the name of the land has yet to be written, but I knew enough about them to have some early artwork commisioned.
On Spiel13 in Essen I met the talented Roxane Kressin of inkwayarts.com who agreed to draw some player-characters for me. The final works are in productions right now (march 2014) but here are some early sketches she made of two of the characters.

torsdag 19. desember 2013

September and October 2013

Spent most of September (and part of October) adjusting the models for 3D-printing. This was done by adjusting, or remodelling the model in Blender, uploading it to Shapeways, wait for 10 days or so until I got the printed object in the mail, evaluate it, adjust again, upload, wait, get printed object in mail and so on.  It wasn't until the beginning of October that I got a result I was happy with and could start printing the army-pieces and castles in greater quantity.

First version of the home-castle for the blue player. Looks good, but the flagpole was a bit thin and could be bent too easily, so in the final version I made it thicker.
The final results from the 3D-printers: the purple home-castle and functional army-pieces with stickers showing army-type.
Another shot of the new 3D-printed pieces. At this point I had only printed pieces for 4 players, but I will print pieces for the 5th and 6th player early next year. Also in this photo, at the far end of the board, you can see the new combat-dice with the correct symbols instead of dots.

Adjustments on the rules that was done in September and October:

Supply cubes cost 1 move to lay down
Units received less XP after combat than before.
Added a new feature called Hilltribe Raiders, in game-technical terms a sort of medieval artillery-strike that you could call in before an attack to soften up a target. I have discarded this since.
Increased movement if units move along supply lines.
Added the possibility to use supplies to give units more moves.
Decreased the number of XP needed to level up units.
Adjusted the combat-dice slightly.

Also made some new tokens for the various armies to track their experience and levels on the tracksheets, using the new army-symbols I made a few months earlier.

mandag 16. desember 2013

August 2013

I had the first playtesting with the new graphic design on the tracksheets in the middle of August, with Morten, Jostein and Morten Johannes. Apart from the graphic design, the only changes in the game from last playstesting was some adjustment to the rules. Pikemen now had better defence against attacking knights, and I also made some clarifications on the rules for building your supply line. Also the rules for retreating after combat was adjusted almost after every playtesting this summer.

However, most of the time spent on this game in August was spent on component design: designing new game pieces for the armies in Blender, that I wanted to 3D-print at www.shapeways.com. I had thought long and hard on how I wanted the army-pieces to be. What was important was that they showed clearly what kind of army it was, and who it belonged to, while at the same time showing how many units there was in each army. So I came up with the idea of a disc with numbers ranging from 1 to 5, put on top of the army-piece. A disc that you could rotate whenever the number of units in the army changed. I had never 3D-printed anything before and didn't know how the various materials behaved, so I printed three slightly different pieces to see which one worked best. And at the end of August I got my first 3D-print from Shapeways in the mail.
At this point I wanted to print the numbers on stickers and stick them on the disc, but later I decided that it was easier, at least for this prototype, if I just made the numbers as cut-outs in the disc.

July 2013 part II

Around mid-July I felt it was time for a big remake of the graphic design. Since I wanted the game to be as little text-dependent as possible I wanted to make graphic symbols for many of the key-elements of the game like knights, pikemen, bowmen, attack, move, cost, supplies, veteran-status, elite-status, etc. With these in place I could then later on combine them into new symbols for important rules such as that moving uphill costs 2 move, that one farmland yields one supply, etc. I also renamed the Cavalry to Knight since I felt that Knight had more medieval flavour, while I think Cavarly has a more dry, game-technical feel to it.

I still used the old game pieces for the armies with the old graphic the design for a few months after this, since I knew I was going to make new 3D-printed pieces soon, and didn't bother with printing, cutting and mounting 270 new paper-pieces when the old ones worked ok for testing purposes until I got the 3D-printed ones made.

fredag 13. desember 2013

July 2013

July saw the first playtesting with four players: Tale, Jørgen, Runa and Kenneth, who were kind enough to test the game for me while I watched. Since last playtesting I had made a new set of tracksheets (again), done a LOT of calculations on the probability of winning or loosing a battle using the various dice-combinations and added the possibility of shifting the odds using supplies, among other things. Before this playtesting I had three competing dice systems but by now I had decided to go for the one that is currently (december 2013) in use.

After this round of playtesting the game went through some major changes in graphic design, and the pikemen got better defence against attacking cavalry.

torsdag 12. desember 2013

June 2013 part II

Another playtesting in June, this time testing the new rules with three players. I had also made a bunch of new army markers, five for each of the nine armies one player can have. At this point I didn't have any way of tracking the number of soldiers in each army on the unit-marker itself. So I made one marker for each number of soldiers that an army could have, and then the players could switch markers on the board if they recruited more units to one army or if one army lost soldiers in battle. This was preferable to just keeping track of the number of soldiers on a tracksheet, since it was easier this way for other players to see how many enemy soldiers was out there on the board.

Also new tracksheets can be seen in some of these pictures. On these new tracksheets you now only recorded the experience of each army, and not the number of soldiers in it. A track for supplies was also included. Big thanks to Jostein and Øyvind for participating in this round of playtesting.


June 2013

In the beginning of June big changes had been done to the game. Gone were the Sappers, the Priest, the goldmines, and the cities that you should control to get victory points. Now the object of the game was to rescue a noble person in a castle that was situated on the opposite side of the board from your home-castle. To rescue such a person you had to build a continuous supplyline from your home-castle to the other castle. And the layout of the map was from now on made so that you had to ruin at least two other player's supplylines to achieve this.

Also, luck was introduced. Now you compared the Combat Strength of the units involved in battle, and checked a table to see which dice you should roll. And I bought even more wooden cubes from Spielematerial to use as supply line-markers on the board.

In the pictures below Tale is enjoying a two player session, with the new rules. The old tracksheets were still in use here, but we didn't bother with tracking the experience points of the units, we just used them for keeping track of how many soldiers there was in each army. A big thank you to Tale for helping me trying out the new rules.