Last month, I came across some really interesting looking card art for a game that is planning a Kickstarter campaign in July. The game is called D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game designed by Thomas Lee and published by Little Bighorn Games. The game is a “pocket battle card game” because it is portable and has simple enough mechanics and rules that it can be played anywhere and at anytime. The game is being advertised as a filler wargame to play before or after your bigger game has finished up. I reached out to the designer Thomas Lee and he was more than willing to give us the lowdown on the game and how it plays. This is not his first go at a Kickstarter campaign as he has had two successfully funded games previously including Western Front WWI Battle Card Game and Eastern Front World War II Battle Card Game (recently funded and in the process of fulfillment). Here is our interview:
Grant: Thanks for your time Thomas. Please tell us a little about yourself. What games do you prefer to play? What do you do for a living?
Thomas: I’m just like you, have dreams and doubts. I’ve worked in Finance now for over 22 years. Games I prefer are most games with miniatures, card and solitaire games, as it’s not always easy to get everyone together as often as you would like.
Grant: How did you get into game design?
Thomas: I’ve been playing tabletop games for years and thought maybe I could have a go at creating something. Initially I designed a big tabletop Greek Mythology Game but I think I bit off more than I could chew, especially when it came to thinking about manufacturing it. On my own, I thought it was a bit daunting so I decided to go to the other extreme and start with a card game.
Grant: What do you love about design?
Thomas: Anything’s possible but doesn’t mean anything’s gonna work!
Grant: What games have you previously designed? How have those games served as inspiration for D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game?
Thomas: My previous games are Western FrontWW1 and Eastern Front WW2 , both pocket card games that have a similar mechanic as D-Day. Although these games covered their respective years of the war, the general setup also worked for D-Day.
Grant: I noticed the game will be published by Little Bighorn Games. What is the history of this company and how did you connect with them?
Thomas: Little Bighorn Games is my own creation, the name comes from a famous battle (Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass and also commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand) and was also my favourite book as a child. In the UK, there was a series for kids called Ladybird and I just loved the artwork.
Grant: What is D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game about? What led you to design this game?
Thomas:D-Day is very simple. You are either the Allies or Germans and are fighting for the 5 beaches on D-Day. Each beach has 7 battles and whoever wins the most battles wins the beach, and whoever wins the most beaches wins the game. I’ve always loved history so these games reflect my love of it.
Grant: What is your overall design goal with the game? What type of play experience are you hoping to create for players?
Thomas: My aim at the moment is to produce fun pocket games to be used as fillers before or after your main gaming event. They can also be taken on holiday or out and about. They can also be used to introduce non-gamers to gaming, as well as introduce kids to history in a fun and simple way.
Grant: Let’s talk about the cards. How do the cards drive the game and how are they played?
Thomas: Each player can use one battle card, and in addition if they want to, one equipment card per battle. They also have access to contact cards, as well as taking into consideration event cards, which are drawn for each beach.
Grant: I see that there are cards that represent each of the five beaches at Normandy and that players will fight for control of each of these beaches. How is this done exactly? How is a battle won?
Thomas: Let’s give an example. Both players place face down in front of them in the playing area two cards and once finished they reveal them. The Allied player uses two cards, his battle card ‘Wave 1 Landing Craft Attack 5‘ and his equipment card ‘Grappling Hooks’, this gives a +2 bonus when attacking the German Atlantic Wall or Concrete Bunker Cards. The German player uses two cards including his battle card, ‘Concrete Bunker Defence 6’ and their ‘Hedgehogs’ equipment card’, this takes -1 from any Allied Landing Craft card. So let’s work out the scores. The Allied player initially has 5 (Attack 5) + 2 (equipment bonus) = 7. The German player has 6 (Defence 6) but his Hedgehogs card means the Allied Wave 1 Landing Craft card is now only worth 4 (-1 bonus), so its a draw at 6 each and no one wins the battle.
Grant: As I look at the cards, the amount of information is fairly limited and has an action title and a number. What are these numbers and how do they work?
Thomas: The mechanic for the game is simply highest score wins. Players lay their battle and equipment cards down, then take into account any modifiers from the event cards that were drawn for that beach, and then calculate their individual scores with the highest score being the winner of that battle. A lot of the game play is trying to work out and anticipate what sequence your opponent will use their cards, taking into account what they played for the last battle. There is an element of luck to the game but also memory and quick thinking.
Grant: Attack and Defense are pretty self explanatory but what does a Neutral card mean?
Thomas: Neutral cards are just that they don’t have a value as they are either Surrender (German) or High Casualties (Allies), so they have a value of zero, but you certainly want your opponent to have to use a higher value card to win it. This is where some of the subtle strategy comes into play.
Grant: What type of cards make up a players deck?
Thomas: Each player starts each beach with 7 battle cards and 5 equipment cards. They also have access to 4 contact cards which can be played each beach or just per entire game. Equipment cards are used to nullify your opponents equipment cards or can increase or decease yours or your opponents battle cards value.
Grant: What are equipment cards used for? Can you show us a few examples of the different types of cards and explain how each are used by the player?
Thomas: Whoever has the highest score wins that specific battle, whoever wins the most battles (7 in total) wins the beach card being fought over. There are also events which will influence your cards, play and strategy, lets give an example. The event card Pointe Du Hoc/Maisy Battery is in play, this states ‘If you win a battle with the Allied Grappling Hooks equipment card, and this event card is still in play at the end of the beach, on the next beach the German Artillery card value is -2. So if we go back to question 12 and the example, the allied player has failed to win his battle so this won’t apply on the next beach.
Grant: Once one beach is decided, what happens next? Are cards useable again and again or are they discarded as they are played?
Thomas: Once a beach has been decided, players just reset, so they take back their 7 battle cards, 5 equipment cards and 4 contact cards (If playing them once per beach). New event cards are drawn and the next beach card is placed into the play area.
Grant: What are bravery and fear contact cards and how do they work? Where did you come up with this concept? Why is this central to your vision for the game?
Thomas: Contact cards represent luck, fear, initiative and bravery, which played their part in the invasion. Let’s go back to the example in question 12 and 13. Currently it is a draw, however the Allied player declares his bravery card which adds +1 to his final score so he wins the battle and the event card will affect the next beach. Contact cards can also be used to change current events, stop using certain contact cards and swap equipment cards but only one can be declared per battle, whoever declares first, so think quick.
Grant: Is this game expandable and does the system fit other possible battles?
Thomas: The game is expandable, but only in the sense I can use the system to cover other military battles. For example, The Battle of Britain as well as battles from the ancient world.
Grant: The art is simply fantastic. I especially love the different fonts used as they reflect the different aspects of the two sides. Who is the artist?
Thomas: I’ve been very lucky with the artist Adrian Stone. One of my friends recommended him and he’s been great to work with and I hope we will have a long and productive working relationship. He worked on my previous game Eastern Front and his style is just perfect for the genre.
Grant: When does the Kickstarter campaign start? What different stretch goals are there?
Thomas: The Kickstarter will hopefully launch in July. I’m currently waiting for a prototype from the manufacturer, which I should hopefully receive this week, and can then film a how to play video. I’m keeping stretch goals to a minimum as I want to keep it manageable as this is currently just a hobby for me. So as long as the game is funded, and it has a quality box and cards inside, I’ll be more then happy.
Grant: What will the base pledge level be and what will it get a backer?
Thomas: The base pledge for one game will be £8 (approximately $10.69 US) but there will be other pledges for 2 games or copies of my other games as well. I’m also having a poppy pledge. Over the last two games, I’ve managed to raise £300 ($400 US) for The Poppy Appeal and Help for Heroes Charity. I’m hoping to raise some more money for the Poppy Appeal this time. The main Poppy Pledge will offer 4 copies of my first game WW1 Western Front for £20 ($26.73 US) but this includes free worldwide delivery and 10% of this pledge will be donated to the Poppy Appeal.
Grant: What are lessons you have learned from your other campaigns?
Thomas: There are many lessons I’ve learned, including make sure you work out your costs. It’s also ok to ask for help and make mistakes. Not everyone will like your game but those that do will embrace and cherish them.
Grant: What are you most pleased with about the design? What do players find the most enjoyable about the experience?
Thomas: Hopefully the design is simple but fun, and that is what I am most pleased with about the design. If you spend 30 minutes, and at the end of it you have had some banter and fun, that’s all I can ask for.
Grant: What is next for Thomas Lee?
Thomas: It would be nice to make this a full time career but at the moment it’s just a hobby. Going forward, I would like to produce a new game every year. These would involve a mixture of mechanics, not just the existing one, but will still be pocket card games. Ideas I have considered for future games are Wolf Pack, Bomber Command, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, Blitzkrieg and Spartans to name just a few. I’m also considering a solitaire fantasy card game. Who knows what will happen? Just have a go and enjoy the journey!
I appreciate your time in doing this interview Thomas and also am glad that I got an inside look at the mechanics as it looks to be a very simple yet engaging game. We wish you luck on your campaign.
If you are interested in D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game, you can visit their draft Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1616093073/1515134835?ref=aq7nb7&token=6485f146