I love a good Card Driven Game and have really enjoyed the previous two entries into the Great Statesmen Series from GMT Games including Churchill and Pericles. So imagine my excitement when the next entry in the series Congress of Vienna was announced in the December 2019 Monthly Update from GMT Games. I have since reached out to the designer Frank Esparaggo and now finally have this interview ready to share with you.
*Please keep in mind that the materials used in this interview including the components, maps and cards are not yet finalized and are only for playtest purposes at this point. Also, as the game is still in development, although nearing completion, details about the game may still change prior to publication.
Grant: First off Frank please tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies? What’s your day job?
Frank: I am 61 years old and from Spain (I reside near Badajoz, Spain…a most beautiful and historic area). I am an Agricultural Engineer and hold an MBA. I am also a business entrepreneur and own/manage several companies dedicated to the agro-industrial sector. One of our products is the cured “100% Iberian Bellota” ham; a high-quality gourmet product Spain is so famous for. I am married and have two adult daughters (one a lawyer and MBA and the other a pharmacist). The eldest of which tremendously helped me take the Congress of Vienna (CoV) game project from dream into reality.
My first hobby is wargames; second, board games in general, and third, history. I also create puzzles, love math (and statistical analysis), enjoy studying genetics and I try to be a good friend to my friends. Also, as you will have the opportunity to confirm with this interview, I really like to talk and write…
I work quite a few hours each day, since I have to coordinate business teams, farms, factories; design and implement plans; decide marketing actions, financial controls and comply with a host of related government regulations (don’t get me started!!!). I am deeply involved with our Research and Development projects. This hard work by all involved with my business resulted in my company “Señorío de Montanera” being named by our Chamber of Commerce and a National Bank 2019’s Best Small and Medium Enterprise of Spain.
Running my business enterprises while carrying out the Congress of Vienna project has involved a family effort for which I have had the support of my wonderful and beloved wife. I think we’ve gotten along pretty well during these unusual circumstances.
Grant: What motivated you to break into game design?
Frank: I like history, and there are some conflicts that I don’t believe have been well enough modeled by wargames. Therefore, I thought I could contribute my “grain of sand” to our hobby. In this case, the Congress of Vienna game’s seed was inspired by my reading the excellent book “Napoleonic Wars 1803-1815” by David Gates while also compulsively and repeatedly playing GMT’s Churchill. I immediately thought the basic mechanics of the latter went like a bolt of applicability to the Napoleonic conflict where diplomacy was even more important than during WW2. That moment of realization, that “aha moment”, inspired my creative spirit and brought Congress of Vienna to its current point!
Grant: What game designers have influenced your style?
Frank: Well, the first is Mark Herman; since my game has a lot of Churchill lineage to it. That ancestry has exceptions of historical time period; the presence of four players instead of three; that the “bogeyman” of Churchill is a Bot; while, in Congress of Vienna, the French player is not as historically onerous as the evil Axis powers! Furthermore, I am passionate about CDG’s, especially when their cards have many possible uses: all with pro and con options making for interesting player decisions. My paradigm for this is Twilight Struggle by Ananda Gupta & Jason Matthews, but Hannibal by Mark Simonitch, Paths of Glory by Ted Raicer, and Crusade & Revolution by David Relloso are examples of games that I enjoy playing and have aided my design of Congress of Vienna’s cards. In these strategic games the cards are somewhat “devilish” since if you use them in one sense, you cannot use them for anything else. Moreover, there are usually one or more cards that neutralize your brilliant “master move”; frustrating but exciting and it keeps the players on edge.
To finish, I love great strategic Napoleonic games such as War & Peace and The Napoleonic Wars by Mark McLaughlin as well as Empires in Arms by Greg Pinder & Harry Rowland. Aspects from these games’ military elements have influenced Congress of Vienna’s design. I am very grateful to the aforementioned designers, both for their ideas and for the happy times I have spent playing their games…really something priceless!
Grant: What do you find most challenging about the design process? What do you feel you do really well?
Frank: Really, the most challenging aspect of the design process was providing each player a game role which would recreate what the ruler of their nation would feel and endure during the distant year of 1813! Also, deciding which Issues would have a place in the game and those which unfortunately would not. I really enjoyed choosing the historical characters represented by Congress of Vienna and modeling their skills and personalities in terms of game mechanics.
Incidentally, I enjoy playing a game with a lot of battle intensity and while Congress of Vienna uses wooden cubes to represent its military units; I have an excellent collection of 2,000+ lead soldiers from the Napoleonic era with their wonderful colorful uniforms and I have not forgotten them! We conducted some CoV play test games here in Spain using those miniatures rather than those drab but functional cubes!
I believe good simple card mechanics contribute to the game working quite well with almost no special rules. This is how we met a major design challenge: creating a game which would appeal to both Eurogamers and veteran Grognards. It was indeed an enjoyable design challenge to address.
Grant: What was your inspiration to design a game around the end of the Napoleonic Wars?
Frank: While there are many games about the Napoleonic Wars; they generally start in 1805 or 1809 and when they reach the critical year of 1813 they do not resemble or foster historical reality (at least in my opinion…which was a motivation for me to design CoV).
I also wanted a game where not only generals, marshals, soldier kings or emperors participate. I wanted to model other historical figures such as those who provide human, material, and financial resources necessary to raise armies and pursue their nation’s interests. The game should also include those elected to military high command; designate the important theaters of war operations; or decide to annex this or that nation. I also wanted to design a game that finished in 5-6 hours, e.g. provide a pleasant afternoon or evening of gaming fun, and not emulate some that require weeks or months to play.
Grant: Why is the game named Congress of Vienna? What do you want the title to evoke in gamer’s minds?
Frank: I thought of calling my game “Metternich”; but I would then ignore the Tsar, another “prima donna” of the time, and there were so many other key characters involved during this fascinating historical period. I therefore immediately discarded naming the game for an individual. That decision resulted in my not having a clear name to entitle the game; although, besides military aspects, I wanted to reflect and highlight the design’s diplomatic components with high emphasis on alliances, conventions, armistices and peace, along with overarching historical European concepts of the time such as absolutism, liberalism, free market, “Holy Alliance” and tensions between the major powers.
The game also includes many European minor countries that had been present during the game’s period. All the preceding led to the actual Congress of Vienna, a gathering intended to achieve a negotiated settlement to almost 25 years of bloody conflict at the end of 1814 and during 1815. The Congress of Vienna title magically emerged in my mind as I pondered what my research taught me. With this title, I want players to be reminded that Clausewitz’s maxim “war is politics with other means” is very true: not only can you win the game through victorious battles; but negotiation and diplomacy can influence its final results as much or more than the former. Thus, the title for Congress of Vienna was born.
Grant: What is the story behind your journey to design this game?
Frank: As punishment for your question you will receive my long answer! Imagine an isolated wargamer of a small city in a semi-rural part of Southern Spain who is designing his first wargame with limited aptitude and knowledge of English…that was me four years ago!
Fortunately, I have a daughter who went to work in the financial world in Seattle and when I went to visit her she took me to Metro Seattle Gamers, a small, spirited and wonderful club where I could play and present my game; while my wife and daughter were busy enjoying the Seattle area sites (and shopping…oh did they shop!). At Metro Seattle Gamers, I met Nathan Geiser, a young man who helped compose my first rulebook in English and polish away the first flaws found in the design. Later, with the help of Fred Schachter (who Nathan introduced me to since Fred was active in the club while he lived and worked in Seattle) I presented it to GMT Games.
GMT incredibly opted to publish Congress of Vienna; and made its P-500 announcement this past December 2019. Throughout this process, I have increased my command of English and met wonderful people in Spain, the United States, and elsewhere through Congress of Vienna VASSAL. These individuals greatly improved my original design with their ideas and their play testing work. Thanks!
Grant: How did you come to engage Fred Schachter as developer? What has he brought to the table?
Frank: Fred Schachter really isn’t exactly our developer. He was the person who received the prototype of the game, sent from Seattle to his home (he had left Washington State for a new job). As previously noted, Fred helped introduce me to GMT; but he had a lot of professional work from a full-time job, then in Arizona, and he was also involved in designing/developing other games.
That’s why he introduced me to Dick Sauer, his good friend and a veteran gamer, who volunteered to become CoV’s developer and with whom I have worked intensively during the last two years. Dick is an Aeronautical Engineer and aviation teacher at Arizona State University. He is applying all his industry knowledge & experience to organize our work; coordinate different play testers in various tasks (solitaire game, balancing sides, analyzing variants, testing scenarios). Our play testers are from geographically disparate sites (the United States, Europe…). Dick forces us to meet goals on time and get the best of ourselves! An iron man with a big friendly heart!
But back to your question about Fred…what is Fred to our game? Although listed as editor, he is our eyes, hands and feet. Fred continually edits the rulebook adjusting it to the modifications we, the CoV Play Test Team, are approving. He has practically finished editing the rulebook by checking all its graphic material; finds flaws no matter how small (which could “break” the game); encourages us to make new scenarios, variants, a fun and exciting solitaire game, and ensure the different Congress of Vienna subsystems work well and cohesively. Fred also encourages us as cheerleader (I would say rather he pushes us) to write articles about different aspects of the game which further its promotion and makes the hobby as aware as possible of the wonderful game we’re offering. (An effort which you, The Players’ Aid, are saliently helping with…and for this interview opportunity I am most grateful!)
He does all this with an incredible work capacity and also with a ready smile. Fred is a gem to have with us!
Grant: The game uses a similar system to Churchill designed by Mark Herman. Why was using this system better than creating a new one?
Frank: When a System works well and has many application possibilities; I think it is a mistake to search for a new one…that is to say, “reinvent the wheel”. Mark already paved the way with his CDG game design approach many years ago and I appreciate the looks of gaming joy his work has given us all who love this hobby ever since. I also believe the game system incepted by Churchill is better suited to CoV’s Napoleonic period and its historical characters than to the original Mark Herman design inspiring it.
Grant: What is different about your implementation of the system?
Frank: You mean what is different from Churchill? First, the Issues; they are quite different with CoV since during the early nineteenth century the main decisions leaders had to make were different from those of the middle of the last century. Second, CoV uses a single Event & Character card deck with the ability to save cards for later use during a turn’s battles. Finally, there’s the card trading procedure which not only allows a player to possibly improve his card hand but also facilitates either helping or undermining others: whether ally / enemy/ or potentially a rival player.
An indirect effect, as you have many more cards than available to play during diplomacy rounds, result in more debates and the Diplomacy Phase therefore becomes very intense, full of disputes, exciting, and funny (and that’s entertaining!). Of course, CoV’s War Phase has more complexity and wargamer “flavor” than Churchill.
Grant: What from the history did you want to model in the game?
Frank: I wanted to model the end of the Napoleonic Wars after the disastrous French 1812 invasion of Russia from 1813 through 1814 at a level of grand strategy influenced by politics, diplomacy, finances of nations involved in a complete but simple way to carry out their often disparate goals.
Among specific historical elements I was interested in modeling; the following “What If’s” are included in the game for players to decide.
Here’s a list for France:
· Withdraw from Spain when the game starts or retain it at all costs?
· Hold Berlin against the vengeful Russians with their Prussian allies or withdraw to Hanover as the French did at the beginning of this campaign?
· Defend Belgium or fight to hold onto Denmark as Davout did towards the end of the war?
· Attempt to defeat Russia in battle by smashing its armies or sign an Armistice during the Spring of 1813?
· Obtain a negotiated peace or seek decisive battle at the middle of the game?
· How to respond should Austria attack in Italy instead of focusing on Central Europe?
· Will Britain land in Naples? Is the British Army invading France from the south or awaiting events in Central Europe?
· How much support to provide the Americans for the War of 1812?
As to the three other Major Powers: Russia/Prussia, Britain, and Austria:
· How does Britain manage to dominate world trade and achieve the Victory Points of “Pax Britannica”?
· Should Russia move faster in Germany seeking a swift victory or strengthen itself first?
· When should Austria support an Armistice and then enter the War?
· How will Europe’s minor countries be divided between the powers?
· How much should Russia and Austria be involved in achieving a “Holy Alliance” among European sovereigns or risk “Liberalism’s” triumph versus their “Absolutism” designs?
· Presuming Napoleon’s defeat, what kind of future government should France have?
Grant: What are all the sides involved in the game? How difficult was it to balance their competing interests for inclusion into the diplomacy issues?
Frank: The first to consider is France; who is in its moment of maximum extension and power, but fighting against the increasingly powerful great European powers. Next is Great Britain and its allies Spain and Portugal. The third is Russia and its allies Prussia and Sweden and finally the fourth side is Austria.
Also, since the War of 1812 affects Great Britain a lot and to a lesser extent France; we put that struggle into the game (in CoV, France controls, within limits, the USA’s efforts).
To an extent, during the game each Major Power has different tools to help achieve its goals…ultimately expressed in the common denominator of Victory Points. I’m now working on a series of InsideGMT articles to illustrate each power’s possible strategies towards winning the game: two are published (France and Austria) with two more to go (Britain and finally Russia/Prussia). It was an enjoyable challenge designing each power’s characteristics and goals so players would be “nudged” (at least) toward behaving historically.
Grant: Were there issues you had to leave out? How did you choose the ones to cut?
Frank: I had to simplify matters; but it really didn’t take too much effort. I believe the game’s eight chosen Minor Countries synthesize quite well to those which were important during the period. Switzerland, Pomerania, Piedmont or Wurttemberg are not included, but some of the chosen Minor Countries may include these because they are in similar geographical areas and had disputes with the same great powers. The Team initially wanted Rome depicted on the map, which would have included the Papal States…but we decided not to include this area on the board nor as an Issue.
Military operations and Recruitment were clearly required present. The Generalissimo Issue was a constant during this period of the Napoleonic Wars, and is much more historically disputed than the Supreme Commander Theater Issue in Churchill.
The Armistice, Austria at War or Sweden at War Issues were determined vital to the game and quickly included. In fact, I recall other games in which these elements result in player discussions similar to those that historically occurred.
The Peace Congress is something that was always in the design; although true “blood & guts” wargamers will be annoyed being forcibly thrust into this peaceful arena…but this environment was something the politicians and diplomats of the time believed intrinsic to the successful conduct of their affairs and a means to halt the horrible prospect of more years of war.
Among other Issues not included in the game I particularly highlight the situation of Spain and Portugal; devastated by France and united with Great Britain yet eager to achieve peace in Europe and be freed to fight for and prevent loss of their overseas colonies; the Ottoman Empire has not been included; and the revolts that occurred in some great powers were also omitted. But somewhere things had to cut; especially when some potential players are those lacking avid interest in the period’s history and just want to have a fun and easily playable game.
Grant: Mechanically how does the game play out for those not familiar with Churchill?
Frank: You don’t need to have played Churchill to play Congress of Vienna. The two games have some common mechanics for the Diplomacy Phase but Government and War Phases are conducted very differently.
Of course, a Churchill player will get through the CoV rulebook faster since the games have similar concepts and rule structuring!
Grant: How does the Diplomacy Phase differ from the Military Phase?
Frank: They are two different concepts behind these phases: in the first, you use the Character & Event cards to get Issues for yourself or to make certain that your rivals do not get them.
Clearly, Congress of Vienna is not a “pure” wargame. It is a negotiation strategy game with a War Phase that makes it a somewhat simplified wargame. Without a doubt CoV is a wargame with DRM’s by units and military leaders, terrain, military support, a Casualties Table…retreat and advancing after battle…However, both Phases are “inversely” related: if you use your Character cards for the Diplomacy Phase you will not have them available for the War Phase. If you do not win enough Issues during the Diplomacy Phase, you will not have recruiting or military operations where they are most important to your Major Power.
I rather enjoyed putting this “yin & yang” aspect into CoV’s design since it creates enjoyable tension to the player’s decision-making. As the Rolling Stones rock band put so well…“You Can’t Always Get What You Want!”.
Grant: What non-military characters influence the Congress of Vienna efforts during the 1813-1814’s negotiations, conventions, and congresses?
Frank: Many ones! For example the Austrian, Prussian and Russian monarchs; Kaiser Franz I, Whilhem Friederich III and Tsar Alexander I; then there is the infamous Talleyrand; and Fouche, the arch conspirator French police minister. The game includes Castlereagh, the spirited British Foreign Secretary as well as the canny Austrian Chancellor Metternich; but there are many other CoV non-military Characters who are less known but who have very interesting usages in the game.
Here are two examples of those lesser known individuals: nicknamed “The Wigs” by our play testers: they are the 1st Earl of Eldon and Nesselrode, Russia’s highly efficient State Secretary.
Grant: These characters are used on staff cards. How are staff cards used?
Frank: Cards can be used to negotiate (move an Issue to your National Track). Cards can provide a particular Issue with positive and negative DRM’s and can be traded with another player. Certain cards are better than others for debating an Issue moved by another player; and finally, if they are saved for the War Phase, staff cards can be used to modify dice rolling in battles. These are versatile cards!
Grant: Can we see a few examples of these staff cards and you explain their abilities and advantages?
Frank: The Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia card has a value of 2, but if it is used by the Russian player (light green label) its value is increased by +2 for the Russian Recruitment or Saxony Issues. Furthermore, if it used for the Russian Recruitment Issue you can receive an additional Prussian free military unit (green label with darker green border).
The Martin Gaudin 1st Duc de Gaete (French card – blue circle in the left upper corner) has a value of 3, but if the French player (light blue label) uses it, its value increases by +2 for all Italy (Minor Country) or Liberalism Issues. Furthermore, if used for these indicated Issues, the French player receives an additional free resource marker.
Wellington has a value of 5, a powerful card indeed! But if the British player uses it for a Recruitment Issue he receives an additional free Spanish military unit (light red label with dark red border). He also has +4 British DRM in battles or -5 DRM for the French player (“Yin & Yang” again); the British player chooses which DRM to use.
Incidentally, card values are used to move Issues onto a Major Power’s National Track during the Diplomacy Phase. Wellington can therefore move an Issue five spaces! However, there are low value cards which offer some players other advantages. Values don’t tell a card’s entire story!
Grant: What role does the Situation Deck play? How is your setup of the Situation Deck different from Churchill?
Frank: They play the same role as in Churchill by placing Issues on the Negotiation Table or upon National Tracks to situate them closer to historical reality; but in fact they also make the Diplomatic Phase very competitive and intense. In the provided example (1813 July A), there are only instructions for the four players (green, white, red and blue for Russia, Austria; Britain and France respectively). There is nothing similar to the Axis as in Churchill, since the common enemy – France – is now a playable faction. Furthermore, in Churchill there is also nothing about Minor Countries. With CoV these are Issues. We also include an Environment Table to simulate the initial situation of American forces in the War of 1812 and the Maritime Struggle between Great Britain, the US, and the French corsairs who indirectly supported the USA.
The game has three types of Initial Situation cards for each game turn: The Historical Situation, a Pro-France Situation, and a Pro-Allied (Coalition) Situation.
Grant: What are Handicap Cards and how do they effect the Situation Deck?
Frank: This is a design element I always kept in mind when playing CDG’s with complex cards (many possible and interesting uses) in which novice players are “beaten” by experienced players. This can result in “newbies” being discouraged from playing again and not having an optimally enjoyable time. The same thing happened to us with Congress of Vienna when we incorporated a new play tester; who was somewhat lost and discouraged by his first game experience. We therefore decided to create Handicap Cards to help him, and future CoV “newbies”, so they would have more opportunities to enjoy (and win) from their very first game.
However, now there are experienced play testers who will use Handicap Cards to provide more uncertainty to each game turn’s initial situation. Therefore, we are also analyzing Handicap Cards used together with CoV’s “BOTS” to make these latter ones more powerful, much less “predictable”, and more difficult to defeat
Grant: How is the board laid out?
Frank: I believe there are not excessive differences with Congress of Vienna’s board layout compared to Churchill‘s. On the right side of the map board are the four National Tracks (in Churchill there are three). With CoV, we placed four needed tables and tracks on the board. In Churchill there is only one…but here there are more Issues and more complexity involving them.
The military map is that of Europe and has more symbols than Churchill which corresponds to CoV’s more developed and detailed War Phase. The Congress of Vienna map has symbols for replacements, mountains, a War of 1812 Box and a Box for depicting Denmark & Norway.
There are also symbols to indicate that a map space can generate an additional resource (wealth) and/or an additional card (for certain controlled spaces by the designated Major Power[s]). There’s a new table to calculate losses in a battle though its cumulative DRM result. Furthermore, a VP Record Track is placed around the military map in a way reminiscent of Eurogames and is a tribute to the contributions of CoV’s Eurogame play testers. Besides, we believe this track helps to better control the game.
Grant: How did you go about designing asymmetry into each of the different nations?
Frank: I had it easy since I could build upon what Mark Herman had done with Churchill’s three players. I had to add a fourth player, the “Corsican Ogre”, and he and France had to be endowed with important national advantages to enable the game being balanced and historical.
This was a fine start, but if you want to make a historical game which goes beyond its mechanical aspects; you have to endow the cards with characters containing “soul”, that is, modifiers for their abilities on the battlefield and with certain Issues based on historical realities. This involved in-depth play testing to make the system historical, fun, exciting to the imagination, and replayable!
For once asymmetries were established, they had to be made “interesting” and engaging to the players. We believe this has been accomplished by granting VP’s based on what the nations in play and their leaders are being motivated to do.
Grant: How does combat play out during the military phase? What was the greatest challenge with this part of the design?
Frank: This is determined by various factors: how many military units are involved, terrain (mountain, landing, home county); military support marker (representing fortifications, local militia, cavalry, artillery, various auxiliary/specialized units, and for the Allies, their Generalissimo); did an army choose a strategic retreat or to stand fast; and then there are the combat cards (deciding if we want to increase our DRM or decrease the opponent’s DRM?); dice roll for each side; then the calculation of losses.
Losses then determine the battle’s winner, loser or if the result is a stalemate with possible VP won or lost; army retreat and advance…all are aspects of a standard Napoleonic wargame!
The greatest design challenge was to get a combat system which would be very easy to use and that took into account everything a wargamer expects from a Napoleonic battle at a grand strategy level. This includes the influence of the overall military and the effects of generals’ performance with ground; auxiliary; cavalry and artillery, including coordination between corps. I honestly believe we achieved this with Congress of Vienna thanks to our play testers who helped design very good and interesting combat cards!
Grant: What was the biggest challenge with this part of the design?
Frank: Getting the game’s battles to be historically plausible and generate results similar to what occurred during this period. It was also important for battles to be proportionate to the replacements and reinforcements each turn receivable by the Major Powers.
Grant: What are the general strategies of the different nations?
Frank: We have written several articles explaining this on the InsideGMT Blog (with more “on the way”: watch InsideGMT!). In general, players have several possible strategies to choose from: achieve military victories and control territories (map spaces); accumulate VP’s for Diplomatic Issues; or win a successful Congress of Peace.
For example, Britain can prioritize gaining an early peace in America to end the War of 1812, perhaps creating a British Province of Maine!; quickly advance on Paris to place itself at the level of its Russian and Austrian partners; achieve the success of Liberalism vs. stultifying Absolutism; establish Free trade in Europe; or gain dominance of world trade through “Pax Britannica” and further industrial development; or perhaps better yet succeed in several of these goals!
Rather than make my response longer, kindly consult material readily available on GMT’s Congress of Vienna site.
French Strategy Post on InsideGMT: http://www.insidegmt.com/2020/06/strategies-for-france-in-congress-of-vienna-game-opening-considerations/
Austrian Strategy Post on InsideGMT: http://www.insidegmt.com/2020/07/strategies-for-austria-in-congress-of-vienna-bella-gerant-alii-tu-felix-austria-nube-1/
Grant: What do you feel the design does well?
Frank: This will have to be ultimately decided by CoV’s players. I believe we have excellent Character and Event cards with an associated system to make the game fun and exciting to play. With these, we have almost half the game’s sought success assured (well, as “assured” as one can get as a designer…please don’t think I’m being arrogantly overconfident.). Furthermore, the game’s Issues are varied and compelling. Since learning how to play Congress of Vienna is quick and painless for experienced gamers; we believe its rules are well structured, comprehensive (particularly when complemented by the Playbook’s content), and with few exceptions. But you know, my Players’ Aid friends, parents think that “our children” are always perfect; so my opinion is clearly biased!
Grant: What changes have come about through play testing? Please give a few examples.
Frank: During initial play testing we went from 14 turns to 10 turns (with two months for a winter turn). We eliminated an attrition segment (very typical of some Napoleonic strategic games) as being very tedious to carry out. For we found it better to “factor in” attrition’s affects.
During the middle period of testing; we greatly simplified the War Phase, which wonderfully sped up the game. This critically important reform was suggested by a very insightful Eurogamer! Likewise, we added as another French advantage that it cost -1 for another Major Power to move an Issue located on the French National Track. This reflects the kind of “intimidation” that France could bear upon those who’d dare oppose their interests. Here we had a lot of aid from Spanish play testers like Marina Castaño, Jesus Gordillo and Enrique Trigueros coordinating tasks.
In the final phase of play testing, which won’t end until GMT advises the game’s production planning is to get underway, we changed certain graphic aspects of cards and the map board while addressing some doubts, duplications and/or “holes” in the rules.
Part of the preceding-mentioned efforts include working hard to have good BOTS, agile and easy to use, as well as “smart”! This is a work fundamentally of the American play testers being ably coordinated by Jim Gutt from Arizona!
Grant: What is next for you?
Frank: I have really taken a liking to game design and above all to collaborate with such enthusiastic, hard-working and also creative people. The Internet is wonderful as it makes you as close as can be to a person from Arizona, Massachusetts, Madrid, Bristol or California (and anywhere in the world!). I have two new game projects underway: “The Spanish Ulcer” a three-player operational CDG of The Peninsular War of 1808-1814. This has individual decks per player; status of war; political affairs and external wars. I neglected this game while I engaged deeper and deeper into the Congress of Vienna project.
The second project is a Churchill and Congress of Vienna type game about the Europe of the Thirty Years’ War. It has diplomacy, politics, religion, and of course vicious wars with its utter and desolate destruction.
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about the game Frank. I appreciate your willingness to provide lengthy and informative answers as these type of answers make it so much more interesting for our readers. We look forward to this one as we simply love the Churchill system (Great Statesmen Series) and enjoy the back and forth with the Issues.
If you are interested in Congress of Vienna, you can pre-order a copy on the game page from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-850-congress-of-vienna.aspx