Well, things have been pretty quiet lately in playtesting of the 2nd edition of Bonaparte at Marengo, but testers have had a face-to-face game of V17, which ended in a win for the Austrians as the French (by their own account) botched the defense of the northern road. A second V17 game is underway in Cyberboard, but that hasn’t even reached the end of turn 1.
The last few days have seen some new ideas for Stavka, which has been pretty quiet itself lately. In playing with the front-line pieces I had manufactured, I have begun to get dissatisfied with my design. (Not the production; eMachineShop did as good a job as I could ask for with that.) The basic problem is that the aluminum sheet from which the pieces are stamped is quite thin, and when viewed from directly above, and the pieces are seen edge-on, they almost disappear; they just have no visual mass at all from that angle.
After considering this problem for some time, I decided that I needed a new design, one that presented a stronger visual presence when viewed from above as well as from the sides. The new design, as it currently stands, is shown below:
Of course, this illustration makes it appear much larger than it really is. The piece is somewhat smaller in all dimensions than a wooden block from BaM, being only 3/16" of an inch tall (as opposed to the 1/4" height of the wooden blocks). Insofar as how they connect, the basic concept of a hook and a loop remains, although both are altered in shape from the previous design.
This actually leads to a second issue, this one with the way I’m showing terrain penalties on the map. As you may or may not recall, the current map uses small squares to indicate terrain penalties (rivers, mountains, etc.) In testing, these have too easily missed, especially when near a front line. I have been looking at some redesigns, but so far I’m only in the initial stages. You can see the current design and a candidate replacement below:
The goal is to come up with a version that is less more easily seen, without it being visually oppressive. I’m not convinced that my candidate replacement is either, but I haven’t even tried it out in print yet; I’m still considering alternatives. As with the current version, the type of terrain would be indicated by color, with the blue in the example indicating river or swamp.
While I haven’t posted a blog update in couple weeks, I have actually been involved in public design discussions elsewhere: a thread in the website BoardGameGeek, where I answered questions from members of the BGG user community. If interested, you can read that thread by clicking here. If you like that sort of thing, there is also an older interview I did back in 2008 for the website Fortress Ameritrash, which you can read by clicking here.
On a more newsy front, playtesting has been continuing with the 2nd edition of Bonaparte at Marengo. I had some issues with V15 in that I felt that French withdrawal was proving too difficult, and so did a significant rules amendment and tried that in V16. Well, that was just too much of a good thing, and as Aristotle would have told me (actually, did tell me, not that I listened), too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
So were to go with BaM2? Not entirely sure. It remains true that V12 was the best version of the game to date, and I am doubtful that moving further away from it in the direction taken with V16 is the way to go. If moving away from V12 isn’t working, perhaps moving back towards it will. I think that the best direction for V17 might be the morale levels from V12 (Austrian starting morale 12, French starting morale 9) and the map and rules from V15. And we’ll call that V17.
On the Stavka front, I got the metal front-line pieces I had custom-made by eMachineShop. They came out pretty well, I think. Not quite up to the level of what I would want in mass-produced production pieces, but certainly far better than the pieces I made from PolyClay. There are still three other piece types in the game, two of which I am still unsure about even from a physical design point of view. More work ahead there.
Finally, I don’t have any production news yet on The Guns of Gettysburg, but I will post here when I do.