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 Interview with Scott H. Moore Designer of 'This War Without an Enemy' Released by Nuts! Publishing  Ple...

Interview with Scott H. Moore designer of This War Without an Enemy released by Nuts Publishing Interview with Scott H. Moore designer of This War Without an Enemy released by Nuts Publishing

Interview with Scott H. Moore designer of This War Without an Enemy released by Nuts Publishing

Interview with Scott H. Moore designer of This War Without an Enemy released by Nuts Publishing




 Interview with Scott H. Moore

Designer of 'This War Without an Enemy'

Released by Nuts! Publishing






 Please give us some biographical information about yourself.

I was born in Sheffield but mainly grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham. My brother and I played games like Monopoly, Risk and Campaign when we were really young kids, but it was Christmas 1982 that really converted me into a gaming geek: we got our first computer – a ZX Spectrum complete with The Hobbit adventure game – plus the Warlock of Firetop Mountain gamebook. By the age of 11 or 12, I was wargaming the English Civil War with 25mm miniatures, and playing Games Workshop games such as Talisman and Warrior Knights. A few years later I started roleplaying with AD&D, MERP and Warhammer RPG. When we were 16, a few friends and I joined the English Civil War re-enactment society as pikemen in Colonel John Fox’s Regiment of Foote.
Not long after I had gone to university to study Physics I more or less gave up on gaming, except for the occasional roleplaying session back home in the holidays. After graduating, I spent a year in Spain, then I did a degree in Optical Electronics in Glasgow and Hamburg. When I finally entered the world of work, it was as a market analyst. I lived in London for a while, briefly in Prague, and then over a decade in Budapest. It was there, about 20 years ago, that I got back into gaming when I discovered both euro games (Catan, Carcassonne) and modern wargames (Hammer of the Scots). The boardgaming scene was just taking off in Budapest at that time, so I had plenty of opportunities to experience the renaissance of the 2000s led by designers such as Reiner Knizia and Wolfgang Kramer. In contrast, Hungarian wargamers were few and far between (they still are). I was lucky enough to find a few willing victims who I could explore light and midweight contemporary wargames with – we played a lot of block games, Command & Colors and CDGs such as Hannibal and Paths of Glory. I also got to know the only ‘serious’ wargamer living in Budapest at that time – St├ęphane Acquaviva (designer of Hungarian Rhapsody). We played through the entirety of Great Battles of History, he introduced me to some classic Napoleonic Games and I could sometimes persuade him to try a CDG or a game from the Musket & Pike series. But the main focus of our hundreds of hours spent during Sunday gaming sessions were the campaign scenarios from the various volumes of MMP’s OCS series.
Several years ago, I returned to Birmingham having changed career to work as a translator. The gaming scene is very strong here – one of the world’s largest tabletop gaming conventions, the UK Games Expo, is held here once a year and has really helped to create a vibrant gaming ecosystem in the city. I attend a few different boardgames clubs every week, so I get to play a wide variety of games: euros, cooperative games, wargames, and even traditional RPGs. As part of the Birmingham Game Designers group, I organise an event every two months where boardgame, wargame and RPG designers can playtest their games with the gaming public. We also have more focused designer meetings four times a month. 




What was your first game design?

When I was about 12 years old, I created an Asterix board game based on Talisman, though I never finished the artwork and it I probably tested it no more than once or twice. When I became a serious hobby gamer 20 years ago, I also began designing games again. Although I’m usually inspired by history, my first completed prototype was a 2-player block wargame called The Long Winter based on a section in the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings (Appendix A, II, The House of Eorl). I was never going to be able to get a game on that topic published, but a couple of ideas I developed for The Long Winter did eventually find their way into This War Without an Enemy.

Why the English Civil War?

As I’ve alluded to already, I’ve been intensely interested in this period of history since I was a kid. The first English Civil War, in particular, is a fascinating narrative, full of colourful characters, closely-fought battles, important sieges and more than one reversal of fortune. I began designing a strategic game on the war many years ago, but the publication of Charles Vasey’s Unhappy King Charles in 2008 put paid to that, as it fulfilled most of what I wanted my design to do. However, a few years later Columbia Games listed the ECW as a topic they were considering publishing a game on. By offering to design it for them, I could combine my love of both block games and the historical period.
  
In what way is your design for This War Without an Enemy  different than others?

As my game was originally designed for Columbia, it very much followed in the mould of games like Crusader Rex and Richard III. However, when I moved to a different publisher – Nuts! Publishing – I wanted to differentiate it from those earlier block games, while at the same time I realised that I had the freedom to increase the complexity level slightly and add in more historical atmosphere. I think there are three main areas where This War Without an Enemy differs from most other block games:
The card decks: I decided early on in the design process to have a separate deck for each player. As a civil war, both sides in the ECW were very similar to each other in many ways, so I wanted to tease out the differences – and introduce more asymmetry to the game – with specific event cards. There are too few cards in total for the player decks to be further split into early, mid and late war decks, and so I introduced a mechanism for adding and retiring cards from each deck. The cards in most card-driven block games provide either points to spend or, more rarely, an event. In TWWE, most cards have both. This allowed me to balance the cards and avoid the possibility of a player having an inherently good or bad hand of cards. Each card either provides a lot of points (4) to spend on movement and/or recruiting; fewer points (2) but a strong event; or something in between (3 points and a weaker event).
Assaults and sieges: although the battles during the ECW are far better known than the sieges, it was the latter that were more important for the outcome of the war. Victory in TWWE is mainly determined by capturing cities, and so the rules around this needed to be well thought out. You can take a city through storming (assault), which is risky but can be quick, or through a siege (blockade), which is slow but sure. The mechanism for storming is similar to that for a battle, but artillery plays a more important role – if you breach the walls using artillery (or Mining via an event) then the city provides a much less significant defensive bonus. Sieges are resolved by rolling a die and consulting a table – this determines any attrition for the defender and eventual surrender. Ports can hold out longer than inland cities and can be reinforced by sea.
The Battle Mat and battle resolution: this has probably been the most popular part of the game. Although I retained the basic mechanism from other block games, I added more historical chrome and more player decision-making (in most block games, the only significant decision during battles is if and when to retreat blocks). The Battle Mat is essentially a player aid that makes battles easy to resolve despite the increased complexity. There are specific rules for artillery and cavalry blocks that replicate their role on the mid-17th century battlefield (yes, Prince Rupert’s cavalry can end up pursuing their opponents off the battle field!). When it comes to infantry blocks, a player must decide every round whether to fire at a distance with the muskets (which is less effective but happens early on in the round) or engage at close quarters with the pikes (more effective but take place at the end of the round). I believe this extra set of decision points makes battles them much more interesting for players.




Is there anything in the game that you would haved liked to be different because you had to compromise, or perhaps some part of the design that gave you fits?

As I have mentioned already, my move to Nuts! Publishing game me the freedom to change my game beyond the confines of the Columbia system. So, in the end, I had full control over the design of the game and did not have to make any compromises. My aim with TWWE was to create a game that is easy to learn, plays in no more than 3 or 4 hours, and yet contains a lot of history. I hope I have achieved this. 
I did not have difficulties with any particularly part of the design process. Basing my game on an existing system meant that it was fairly easy to develop an initial prototype. When I later chose to change the game, it was more of an evolution of an existing game that was working well. The trick was to add more chrome and historical atmosphere without compromising playability. Perhaps the most challenging part of the game to get right – and this is something that really gives it the flavour of the English Civil War – was the regional aspect. While the main field armies of the King and Parliament generally campaigned across the centre of the country, there were virtually autonomous regional theatres of war in the north and southwest of England. Unhappy King Charles simulates this in various ways, but I wanted a simpler approach for TWWE. Essentially, most blocks belong to one of five regions of England and Wales. Each block can only recruit (add strength) in its home region and may not leave, or remain outside of, its home region unless ‘chaperoned’ by a Leader block. 

Anything else you would want to emphasize or add to?

Something that I haven’t mentioned yet is the artwork and graphic design of This War Without an Enemy. This was a long process for both the publisher and I, but eventually we were very fortunate to find Nicolas Roblin and persuade him to do his very first board game commission. Working with Nicolas was a very collaborative experience, but the success of the final design was mainly due to his extensive research, passion and dedication – and, of course, his natural talent. He spent days in a library just to find the period illustrations for the cards. But it is the box cover illustration and the gorgeous map art that have attracted the most praise from people – they elevate the look of the game beyond anything I could have hoped for when I first started designing it all those years ago.

Thank you

Robert

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