We have interviewed Thomas Lee a few times in the past with the focus being the next iteration of his card game system. We first interviewed him for D-Day Operation Overlord Battle Card Game followed by Battle of Britain.
The games are considered a “pocket battle card game” because they are portable and have simple enough mechanics and rules that it can be played anywhere and at anytime. The games are advertised as a filler wargame to play before or after your bigger game has finished up. We reached out to Thomas to get the lowdown on his upcoming project called Operation Market Garden Pocket Card Game which comes to Kickstarter on January 15th.
Grant: What was the reason you wanted to design a game covering Operation Market-Garden?
Thomas: I’ve always enjoyed watching the movie A Bridge Too Far with my dad as a kid and always had an interest in the airborne operation. Plus with using the operation as a setting, I can introduce my card game to a new way to play my existing games.
Grant: What other games did you draw inspiration from for this one?
Thomas: Numerous card games to be honest. I try and take ideas ideas from all of them and incorporate them when it makes sense or to solve a problem I am having with the design.
Grant: What elements from the history did you want to include in the design? How did you accomplish this?
Thomas: I wanted to include the desperate nature of the fighting over the bridges as ultimately holding all were needed to secure victory. I included numerous real events from the history of the battle plus a new Victoria Cross mechanic and you had to win the bridge in order to proceed to the next one. The events favour the Allies for the first bridge only like in the actual battle and quickly change to making it more difficult. I also introduced Allied Division Cards to highlight the weakening of these fighting forces over the course of the battle.
Grant: How does the game play out?
Thomas: There are 5 bridges that the Allies must capture in order to win the game, with each of the bridges consisting of 7 battles using the cards. The players must win the most battles to win the bridge and ending in a draw isn’t an option.
Grant: How are cards used in the design?
Thomas: Each player has 7 Battle, 3 Equipment and 3 Tactic Cards and players will use a mixture of these during each battle, with the highest score winning each of the battles. The key is to work out what sequence your opponent will lay their cards down and counter those cards with the cards in your hand. This can make for a nice back and forth mechanic where you are trying to take the battle by using a card that wasn’t anticipated by your enemy.
Grant: How many cards does each side have access to?
Thomas: As well as the cards listed above the Allied player will also have a Victoria Cross Card and 5 Division Cards at their disposal. There are also 14 Event Cards.
Grant: What different types of cards are there? Can we see some examples of the different types?
Thomas: The 7 Battle Cards have different values listed on them ranging from 1-8, Equipment Cards can add to these cards values and Tactic Cards can cancel out certain effects from your opponent’s cards. For example both players have an Air Superiority Card that if played by their opponent caused them to be unable to use a Tactic Card during the course of that battle. If they have their Air Superiority Card they can ignore its effect. If they have also used a Tank Equipment Card it will ignore its effects. BUT if both players use this card at the same time they cancel each other out.
Grant: What purpose does each serve in the game?
Thomas: Players can use combinations of their different cards in order to get the highest score during a battle while the Victoria Cross Card can also cancel out certain outcomes for the Allies where as the Division Cards can be used by the German player to gradually weaken the Allies and limit their actions just like in the actual battle.
Grant: What are Tactic Cards used for and what do they represent?
Thomas: Tactic Cards represent actual tactics in the battle and can be used to cancel out other cards or increase a players score that turn.
Grant: How are Event Cards used? Can you show us some examples?
Thomas: Event Cards are based on the actual events that took place during the operation. For example, Major General Urquhart lost in action. When this card is displayed the Allies have to reduce the Allied Leadership Division Card by 1 to reflect the lack of leadership when this happened.
Grant: What is the Victoria Cross Card and how is it used?
Thomas: In the battle 5 Victoria Crosses were won so it was nice to be able to incorporate these into the game. The Allies can use these tactically to change an event, add a point to a battle, etc. but they have to be used wisely as once they are played they are gone.
Grant: What is the purpose of the Allied Division Cards and how are they used?
Thomas: Allied Division Cards represent the fighting capabilities of the divisions. For example, Ammunition, Morale, Fatigue, Leadership and K Rations as the battle went on these were ultimately reduced, the German player can start to reduce these if they win a battle to help them tactically. When they reach zero an effect kicks in. For example, Fatigue once at zero -1 from the next Allied Battle Card value.
Grant: How are cards used to create the game board that players must fight over?
Thomas: The 5 bridges are placed in the centre of the playing area and revealed one by one, if a player wins a battle they keep the cards used in a small pile on their side. The Division and Victoria Cross Cards are left out for both players to see.
Grant: What variant rules and options are included in the rules?
Thomas: Optional rules are that you can play the game best of 5 bridges instead of first to win 3 bridges wins. You can also start the game with all 14 Event Cards to make it harder, a reduced amount of Victoria Crosses or reduce the Division Cards by 2 instead of 1 if the German wins a battle.
Grant: Who is the artist for the game? What does the style add to the play experience?
Thomas: Adrian Stone is the artist and his art fits perfectly with the genre. This game has my favourite artwork so far. Good art is a vehicle to draw in players and make them feel the history of the game. Without it, it just becomes an exercise of slapping cards down on the table.
Grant: What was the most difficult element of the design to get right?
Thomas: Getting the Event and Division Cards to work together. This is always a balancing act as you are trying to remain true to the history of the battle but also want to make the game winnable by both sides. You don’t want certain cards to be too powerful or under powered.
Grant: What has been the reaction of your playtesters?
Thomas: Playtesters enjoyed the ‘You must win the bridge’ element of the game. It forced them to have to think really hard and carefully about each battle.
Grant: What stretch goals have you planned for the campaign?
Thomas: There are no stretch goals planned at this point. I could make the two piece box a stretch goal for example but I want to deliver a quality product day one plus being a small business I know my limits and don’t want to promise what I can’t deliver.
Grant: When do you believe the game will be fulfilled?
Thomas: Hopefully the game can be fulfilled by June/July 2021.
Grant: What other games do you have in the works? What type of timeline do you think these will see the light of day and how to Kickstarter?
Thomas: I’m currently working on several games, Hurtgen Horror my first solitaire game which is set in WW2 but with Zombies. Wolf Pack my first 2-4 player game and re-doing my first game Western Front to match all my other Kickstarters with the same artwork. I am hoping to launch these 3 games over the next 2 years.
Here is a link to a review of the game by Matt White, who you might recognize from his artwork on games such as Castle Itter and Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms from Dan Verssen Game as well as from his own games including Until the Bitter End, Until the Bitter End: US Airborne and Until the Bitter End: Tanks.
If you are interested in Operation Market Garden Pocket Card Game you can back the project on the Kickstarter page at the following link (this page is only a preview at this point but will be further populated nearer to the Kickstarter launch): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/b0b/operation-market-garden-pocket-card-game