The World at War Europe

This game is currently on Kickstarter right now, so click here if you’re interested in looking at it.

1. Hi Gonzalo, before we get started can you introduce yourself a little? Who are you and where are you from?

Well, I’m a Spaniard guy from Madrid. I’m 46 years old and I have an extensive experience with wargames as I started playing my first wargame when 10th or 11th (not sure). My first wargame was “La Segunda Guerra Mundial” from NAC (Nike and Cooper) games which was famous publisher here in Spain by the 80’s and 90’s.
Then I discovered Avalon Hill Games by the hand of Anzio, which was a hard step as we had to fight with manuals much harder than the previous ones and we also discovered some concepts like “stacking” which were not used on NAC games. Even I remember that my older brother just didn’t like that and was the last time he played wargames with me and my other brother (we are three and we all like wargames and History).
As I told you, we were three players at home so playing wargames face to face was not difficult at that time. Those were our golden days in terms of playing boardgames, hehe.

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In terms of game design, “World at War: Europe” is my first design with real intention to publish it but I remember that we designed some fast and easy games with my second brother when we had around 11 and 13 years old. We did a galactic combat game when the TV published Galactica serie and we also designed some battle scenarios little games after reading Julio Caesar’s book regarding the Gallic Wars and the Roman Civil Wars.
Recently, my brother also started working on designing wargames (this time for Pc platform) so we finally decided to create a company and start working on our dream.

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2. What are your personal favourite wargames and why?

My favourite wargames have been traditionally related with World War II as I think it’s the topic with more titles in the market so for me has been easy to play such games (but this is changing now).
One of my favourite titles was Third Reich 4th edition from Avalon Hill. I believe that this has been probably the most played game at home with great difference over the rest of my collection. So I have an special affection with this game.
On the other hand, I could say that my preferred conflicts are campaigns like: Market Garden, The American Revolution War, The American Civil War and specially the Pacific War (WWII). But nowadays I tend to try and learn other topics in History like 7 Years War or other periods less represented by wargames.
One thing that it’s not usually present at my collection or my gaming table are the modern conflicts (starting from Korea) as it’s not interesting to me or the Antiquity which I believe it’s hard to represent without doing a game full of errors or imagination, caused by the lack of documentation.

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3. The World at War: Europe is a strategic level game about the European Theater. What inspired you to create a game covering this topic?

Well, as I told you some lines up, one of my favourite games is based on this same theater, but the real reason was not just that.
Initially my plan was to create a system or rules for a digital easy wargame based on the theater but to publish on PC and Android (or iOS) digital platforms. So first of all, to be able to have something on which I could base my digital design I would need the rules. Then, when I finished my first rules draft I thought on having it on a table to test it, as I’m not much friend of playing or testing with VASSAL or similar tools (I like to touch the components and have all the game in front of me). So then I created the first prototype for the game with poor components but enough to start testing. Then the game started it’s evolution.

I also focused the objective more to create an easy game about WWII which could be easy enough as an introductory game to wargaming for non wargaming gamers. That’s why I added simple wooden cubes instead of cardboard tokens (with typical combat and movement factors) for the combat units and avoid to use a Combat Result Table with Odds or something like that.
I even started the design with some kind of dice based actions (similar to some eurogames that I have played), but finally I changed it to action chits as it works now.

So maybe the plan at the end was to create a wargame for eurogamers. 🙂
We will see if I have success with them or not.

4. Which other titles and designers had an influence on your game design?

More than other titles I have to say that other “new” designers influenced me. Some years ago I have the pleasure to meet with David GĂłmez Relloso, the designer of “Crusade and Revolution” from Compass Games. By that time he had the dream to publish his prototype and he worked really hard to reach his objective. He finally had success with Compass Games and the game is much appreciated in the wargaming community.
So I thought, “If I have been wanting to create a wargame design, why I cannot be like David and work on it?”.
By that time I started working on other wargame design (not “The World at War: Europe”) and I did all the graphic design, rules and physical prototype to test it by myself, but it stays there unfinished b/c of life issues (children and lack of time).
Some time later the idea to create TWAW: Europe came to my mind and I started the new design.

5. Which part of the game you most proud of and why?

I believe that the my favourite parts of the game are the Industry/Technology and “actions” of major countries and the Operations phase. My main idea with the game was to create a game absolutely based on the economic resources (as in the Third Reich 4th Edition but simpler). I wanted to force the players options and actions based on their countries economy.

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In the game you can move almost everything if you have oil for it, if you don’t have it you will have limitations, but the oil mainly will affect the operations you will be able to launch with your units/countries. Operations are the main offensives over the map. And Operations are the back side of Action chits counters. So you must balance the use of action chits to play Operations or Actions.
All major countries will have a variable number of action chits. This action chits are used to improve your economy or technological advances, or will be used to perform military Operations (Operations on back side). If you just use them with military Operations you will have no ability to spend them on your industry or technology. But on the other hand, if you use them too much to improve your industry/technology and build army, you will be unable to launch great military offensives.

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Other game parts that I really like are the hidden Diplomacy or convoys, but the hardest item to design was the Combat resolution (which caused me some headaches) which I believe is probably unique in the wargaming designs. I believe that at the end I have found a way to solve them on an easy way, with some options for the players and also being able to create credible and not fixed results.

6. Is there anything that you wanted to include that you had to take out?

Yes, meanwhile I designed the game I thought on many things that could be added to it but that mainly would add more complexity and game length to the design. In example, more complex rules for naval or air units and their effect over the rest of the game. Other important topic has been to simplify the map areas as much as possible, and this causes to limit the maneuvers with units on the map. Therefore military operations are simpler.
I have also left out from the design alternate scenarios for an early WWII period, I mean, what could happened if Germany would had attacked or invaded other country instead of Poland, or if WWII would had started on other year not in 1939.
This kind of “What if” options maybe will be designed later.

7. What can players expect from World at War: Europe that is unique, or they cannot get in other strategic WWII titles?

One of the main characteristics of the game is the low/medium complexity of the rules that make possible to play the game with few references to it and also play the whole WWII on half day session. At the same time the game has lot of chrome on it and it doesn’t removes part of the war from the game (like others do).
It’s also true that players will also have a game with replay-ability and uncertainty based on hidden Diplomacy and variable options for both sides, so you are not fixed to what happened historically (France can resist to Germany, the Axis friendly minor countries could not join Germany, or other neutrals can join the Axis, or USA can enter the war earlier or later…and that’s without thinking on the Research possibilities which add more variables to the game).

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8. Can you explain, briefly, how combat works?

Combat is based on two types. One without spending an action chit which is the “Limited offensive” and the other based on the action chits, which is the “Operation”.

The intention for the Limited is just the ability to launch small attacks (in terms of losses) without needing oil reserves, as the maximum loss you can cause is one unit to the defender and none to the attacker. You just see how many attackers are in the selected area and roll a d10 die. You will need to obtain a result (changed with certain modifiers) equal or less than the attacking units number.

On the other hand, the “Operation” attack are the main offensive tool for the major countries. You will need an action chit for it, as the Operation is on the back side, and you will be affected by your oil reserves.

The Operation offensives are used to cause damage and to advance fast into enemy territory.

The main topics of this combat type is that it’s divided into two separated combat types: Operational and Tactical.
The players roll d3 dice and apply DRMs to obtain a global sum, this give us the Operational combat winner (if not a draw), which causes its own level losses.
But we also have the Tactical one which is just to compare the dice one against one. Each die that is greater than the opposite causes one additional loss.
The Operational level defines the result, but the Tactical add its own losses, so the fun thing is that you can win the battle at the Operational level, but with higher losses than the looser at the Tactical level.
An interesting point here is to bear in mind that air units affect the combat by adding +1drm on the Operational level or by rerolling one die on the Tactical level. That causes the player to have to decide where to use their planes.

Of course, the detailed description add many die modifiers and the air combat that can happen before.
Once the players solve some battles, the mechanic is easily learned.

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9. How did you balance military/resource/economy in the game and what kind of choices can we expect to be faced with?

This is something that I have mentioned in other questions.
The players would need to use wisely their action chits to balance their efforts on military/technology/industry or unit construction as they are used in common by all this kind of actions.
Of course, any major country will need to have resources present on the map to increase it’s capacity to invest on those actions.
One point that is really important is that countries will earn more action chits by improving their industry level, so i.e. Germany will be unable to fight in all fronts (or even invade the USSR with some possibilities) if its industry doesn’t advance accordingly.
Players will learn how to balance and use their actions depending on the situations that the game propose.

10. Is there any advice you’d give to new players before they jump on into the game?

Just learn the game playing the scenarios in order, as they are designed to allow the players to learn the game easier. That way they will not need to read the whole rulebook until they want to play the campaign game.

11. When can we expect to see this game on the table?

The game is now under testing phase with its design mainly closed, so we are just checking the game balance or fixing details that can be improved meanwhile testing the game.
Our hope is to finish this testing stage during the next Spring and that way be able to launch the game in Summer.
If we reach that objective, the game development would have last for 3 years.

12. It’s early, I know, but do you have any other ideas or games in the work as well?

Yes, after publishing this game I have two ideas on my mind. Fist is the game design which I told you that I left aside three years ago. This is a chit based game based on Market Garden Operation. You can find some details about it on CSW, here in the “September Snow” folder:

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On the other hand, if TWaW:E has good acceptance in the gaming community, my plan is to design a brother game for the Pacific Theater not only based on the same system but also playable at the same time, so designed to play it as a global war. For sure, this game would require specific mechanics for the air-naval operations, that could probably affect the original rules of TWaW:E. But it’s true that I have many ideas already thought for it, so in that case this design could see the light faster than it’s parent game.

Stay tuned on our websites:

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Wisdom Owl