Last year, I came across some great looking historical based card games being developed and published by a small publisher named Little Bighorn Games. The designer of these games was Thomas Lee and he was more than willing to do an interview with us on D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game, which successfully funded on Kickstarter. He now is moving ahead with another game focused on World War II but that covers the air war during the Battle of Britain. We reached out to him ahead of their Kickstarter campaign to see if he was willing to do another interview and he agreed.
Grant: Welcome back for another interview Thomas and congratulations on the success of your campaigns over the past couple of years. What was the reason you wanted to design a game covering the Battle of Britain?
Thomas: Thanks for having me back Grant. The main reason was to add variety to my game portfolio as I have already covered land battles and invasions but so far not a specific aerial engagement plus it was a key battle of the war.
Grant: What other games did you draw inspiration from for this one?
Thomas: I used the same system as my previous games but also wanted to add the ability to have a dogfight and monitor attrition on each players squadron as 100% of planes were not available 100% of the time. I also have to contain the engagement into a simple pocket card game with rules that made it fun to play but also fast playing and easy to learn.
Grant: What elements from the history did you want to include in the design? How did you accomplish this?
Thomas: The aim of the battle historically was to gain air superiority so that was vital to have included. I also wanted to include many of the various airplanes used, events over the months of the war and various tactics each side tried. Adding the ability to dogfight was also very important and a way to monitor how each sides psychology was effected through fatigue and morale.
Grant: How does the game play out?
Thomas: The game plays over a series of rounds depending how long you want the game to last so at a minimum of 3 to a max of 7 rounds, with each round consisting of 7 battles.
Grant: What is the purpose of the Air Superiority card?
Thomas: It is pretty central to the game and it what is being fought over. Whoever has the Air Superiority card at the end is the winner.
Grant: What was the reason for the types of event cards you included in each deck?
Thomas: There are 12 event cards in the game and they all reflect what happened in the actual historical battle. So for example, Operation Sealion Postponed, Eagle Day, Unescorted Bombers by Day, Short Range, Limited Ammo and Reserves to name just a few.
Grant: How are these Event Cards used in game play?
Thomas: Events are drawn at the start of the round, if a player wins a battle they can choose to change the current event if desired. An example of an Event Card is as follows, Night Attack All bomber cards +1, All fighter cards -1. This will affect your battle cards value and can really change the outcome of the round.
Grant: What are Tactic Cards used for and what do they represent?
Thomas: Each side has 4 Tactic Cards that represent the various tactics each side used during the battle. They can be added to Battle Cards or used to cancel out other Card’s effects. They can be very key to battles and must be used wisely.
Grant: How are these Tactic Cards used in game play?
Thomas: An example of an RAF Tactic Card is as follows, Fighter Ace 303 Squadron. If a dogfight is a draw you can elect to go again. Can only be used once per round.
Grant: How is the winner of a battle determined?
Thomas: The winner of each battle is whoever scored the highest, alternately whoever won the dogfight if a dogfight is played out.
Grant: What happens when an individual battle is won?
Thomas: When an individual battle is won the cards used in the battle are put in a pile and kept on the winners side so players can see who has won the most battles so far
Grant: How do Squadron Cards effect game play? Where did this unique idea come from?
Thomas: Squadron Cards act like an attrition factor in the background to begin with but the more battles you play the more you will have to consider them. Each player starts the game with 5 squadron cards as follows, Fatigue, Experience, Morale, Intelligence and Serviceability. They start at zero but when they reach 3 an effect will kick in. When a player wins a battle they can either change the current Event Card or change two separate Squadron Cards by moving them by 1 up or down. These are never reset at the start of the round.
Grant: What was the most difficult element of the design to get right?
Thomas: I wanted to make each of my games different in some way and the Squadron Cards was an idea to do this. For the first round they may not come into play but the further you go they will and I wanted to add another layer of strategy to the game. In the actual battle the Germans Morale was higher to begin with but as the battle progressed and losses increased this fell and using the Squadron Cards was also another way to try and add a bit more history to the game. An example of a Squadron Cards is as follows, Morale once at 3 -1 to your total score each battle. If this card is subsequently reduced down to 2 the effect stops until it is returned to 3 again.
The most difficult aspect of the game was trying to incorporate all the elements and history I wanted too. I had to compromise and reduce certain cards but I believe and hope I’ve managed to get the balance right. My games are also a way to introduce people to a subject and if they enjoy it they can look at more complex and longer games to play.
Grant: What has been the reaction of your playtesters?
Thomas: The playtesters liked the new dogfight mechanic which works like rock/paper/scissors and also the Squadron Cards as they found the effects suddenly creeped up on them.
Grant: When do you anticipate going to Kickstarter with this project?
Thomas: My aim is to launch the Kickstarter on February 1st after the Christmas break.
Grant: What stretch goals have you planned for the campaign?
Thomas: I generally keep stretch goals to a minimum as I know my limits especially as I do this in my spare time currently. The main stretch goal will be better quality paper from white to blue core paper. The game will come in a sturdy two piece box like the Eastern Front and D-Day games and although this could be a stretch goal I wanted to guarantee this quality at the beginning.
Grant: When do you believe the game will be fulfilled?
Thomas: Depending when launched I hope to fulfill within 6 months.
Grant: What other games do you have in the works?
Thomas: I’m currently working on several games, Operation Market Garden, re-doing my first game Western Front so it matches all the other games in artwork and style. Also Trophies of the Reich, Wolfpack and an Enigma Card Game.
Thanks for your time in answering our questions Thomas and we wish you luck on your Kickstarter campaign. Once we have a link to the Kickstarter page we will add it here for your use.