Today we have the pleasure of talking with Chris Green from Menaveth Games. He’s got a Kickstarter campaign running for his new design, WarFields. Chris, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
I've been playing games for as long as I can remember. Some of the first games I played were on the Apple II. As I grew up, there was always a game console in the house. I must have logged hundreds of hours for each game we owned.
After high school, I went to school and studied graphic design and digital media, graduating in 2011. I married my beautiful wife in 2009 and our first child was born in 2012. Now I buy my own games and look forward to when my son can beat me.
How were you first introduced to modern board games?
I was at my best friend's wedding, and while us groomsmen were waiting for the time of the wedding, someone randomly pulled out Settlers of Catan. We had about an hour to kill so we all starting playing. I had never played before so I just stood and watched. The game looked like a lot of fun and I really wished at that moment I could have joined in. I had played video games that had similar game mechanics, such as resource gathering and building, and loved those games. I knew I would love Settlers the moment I'd get a chance to play. I wondered at that moment what other games like this I had been missing out on. I then got the chance to play Dominion with a few friends and was instantly hooked to board games.
I wish I could say I have a huge game collection, but I don't. But don't count me out just yet! I'm still working on it!
It took a long time to figure out what I was passionate about...
I've always loved to draw. I was fascinated by comic books and manga, not for the story, but for the pictures. I'd try to draw that style and thought I'd be an animator when I grew up. I took a class in high school on web design and was first exposed to Photoshop 6.0. I loved the creative freedom that it brings, and decided to go to college to study design.
When I started playing Minecraft, I didn't play it to "beat the game," I played it to create. When I learned people could create adventure maps (adventure maps being a created story and adventure that could be downloaded and played by other Minecraft users) I jumped all over that. When I had made about five different adventure maps, I realized this is what I enjoy doing the most: creating games.
I dabbled in a few video game engines, but creating a video game is a ton of work for one person. So I went for a simpler route just to get my feet wet. I created a Chess adaptation with achievement cards. The game was called Rooked! I had so much fun making the cards and play-testing the game, I decided to go big and started working on WarFields.
WarFields—at first blush—sounds similar to some other card-based tactical games, such as Summoner Wars. So what makes WarFields unique in this genre?
I would be dishonest if I didn't say the games are strikingly similar. I was aware Summoner Wars existed, but I created WarFields without the knowledge of how to play Summoner Wars. Even with that, there are great differences between the games.
The way combat is done in Summoner Wars is that you roll a die for a hit or miss, basically. In WarFields, combat is taken to a whole new level. First you have choice. Most characters have two types of attacks of variable strength and ailments. One attack is usually stronger, but the weaker attack costs less. That’s just for the attacking side. For the defender, each character has a Defense number and a Health number. The attack hits the defending character's defense first. If the character withstands the attack, no damage is done to the health. But the offense may have more characters to attack.
In Summoner Wars, you have a small deck you can burn through pretty quickly. In WarFields, both players draw from the same deck, leaving no room for a distinct advantage. The deck is also 90 cards. In all of the rounds I've played we left cards in the draw deck, making each game unique. There is also no deck-building or card-burning. Everything is driven by gold.
Gold is collected by workers and selling cards. The more workers you have in play, the more you have to work with each turn. At the beginning of each turn, you'll collect the gold from your workers and have the option to sell one card from your hand. Gold is then used to recruit characters into your army, used in their attacks, or used for powerful scrolls.
I started out with the idea of fields. I wanted characters to have a starting position that was separated from the standard combat zone. So I started with four fields, but quickly learned that wouldn't work if I wanted ranged attacks. So six fields became the standard.
At the same time I was making that decision, I chose the theme of Fantasy for several reasons. The first is I love the fantasy genre. My favorite movie is Lord of the Rings and my favorite game is Skyrim. The second reason is that it is well received by the gaming community.
Once I had made those two decisions, the ideas about characters, attacks, power ups, and every other idea just flowed naturally out of that.
What is you favorite mechanism in the game?
My favorite mechanic is the fields. There are six fields in the game and that opens up a wide variety of bonuses and obstacles for each game. But the reason I like it the most, is because the opening fields are separated so you and your opponent start out far away from each other. What makes that even better is, when characters are played they still have the ability to move, and even attack, in the same turn.
What’s your favorite Character in the game, and why?
My favorite character would have to be... the Summoner and Necromancer. I know I'm supposed to pick just one, but both these characters open the door to more than just human characters in your army. The Summoners can add beast creatures, and the Necromancer can add undead characters. These two characters are also balanced so that neither is better in any way. So I can't choose just one, but I can choose these two.
Any expansion ideas kicking around in your head?
Absolutely. I had so many ideas for different cards, there was no way I could throw them all into one game. Since this is a game where the owner of the game decides how they want to play, and since so many other cards could be made in the future, adding expansions to make the game their own is a must.
What are your three favorite games right now?
My three favorite games right now are Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Skyrim. You didn't say they had to be board games. :P
Favorite board game designer?
Favorite science fiction show ever?
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?
Band you’re ashamed to admit you like?
Chris, thanks so much for talking with us. And thank you for reading! Make sure you check out the Kickstarter campaign for WarFields.