With last year’s success for The Shores of Tripoli from Fort Circle Games, which covers the Barbary Coast War during the infancy of the United States in 1801, I know that there is a lot to be said for a small wargame that focuses on a lesser known conflict. With that in mind, recently I came across another small historical game on Kickstarter that is focused on the War for Mexican Independence from Spain in 1810 called Patria Libre: 1810 North American Independence from Malinche Games. The game looks very interesting and I reached out to the designer to get an inside look at the design.

If you are interested in Patria Libre: 1810 North American Independence, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/malinchegames/patria-libre-1810-north-american-independence-board-game

Grant: First off Saul please tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies? What’s your day job?

Saul: First of all, thanks for the interview. As for my personal tastes, I really like traveling to the beach, visiting museums, I like practicing basketball and I love board games. I have an architecture training; I have a company that manufactures prefabricated elements for buildings. I work 10 hours a day on average. I like to invent, I have 3 patent attempts.

Grant: What motivated you to break into game design? What have you enjoyed most about the experience thus far?

Saul: I grew up with a great love of board games, although in my region only the Hasbro catalog and the Monte Carlo catalog (a local company that Hasbro copies) arrived, I had everything that came out of their factories. As an adult, I realized that this world evolved in a fantastic way and from then on there was no return. Mexico, like many other Latin American countries, has a limited catalog of board games, our devalued currency, high customs and shipping costs reduce the chances of entering this world for the average citizen. Against this background we need local designers who find more accessible ways to provide games with a different and authentic vision of our worldview. What I like most about this hobby is its people, many people support Malinche in an enthusiastic and vested way. Surprises like this interview make what you value the most is people.

Grant: What do you find most challenging about the design process? What do you feel you do really well?

Saul: My personal challenge is simply finding the time in an already packed schedule, but I am making progress little by little to achieve the goal of living 100% off of board games which is a personal dream of mine. My first published game Tierra y Libertad has had great acceptance in the Mexican market, which motivates me to continue toward success. My strength as a designer is to synthesize the theme and the mechanics into a playable game that tells a story. I achieve simple, narrative driven games without sacrificing mechanics.

Grant: What is your upcoming game Patria Libre about?

Saul: Patria Libre is a game about a little-explored historical period in the world of board games; The independence of Mexico (or New Spain). New Spain in 1810 represented a large territory in North America. The game is a 2 player game that allows players to take on the role of two different factions. The Insurgents who sought to separate from Spain and the Royalists who tried to prevent it. The players will use orders that will allow them to recruit, move, attack, and level-up their units, collect taxes or gain victory points, build a stronghold, or buy event or character cards. The objective is to gain more victory points than the other side. To achieve this players must control key regions and use cards akin to their faction. Climbing in popularity will help a lot.

Grant: What does the title mean and what does it convey about the game and the play experience?

Saul: It took me a long time to settle on the final title. After much thought and a few different iterations, I feel that the title of “Patria Libre”, which means free homeland, condenses the desire of the Insurgents who were fighting to stop being accountable to the Royalists, who held the best public and political positions and constantly increased taxation.

Grant: What sources did you consult on Mexican independence from Spain? What one source would you recommend as a must read?

Saul: The book that inspired me was “Guerrero del Alba” by Isabel Allende and comes highly recommended, from there I continued with “General History of Mexico” from the Colegio de México (a 19th century book), “The Revolution of Independence” by Luis Villoro (a more current book). Likewise, I highly recommend the history magazines on the subject, such as “Relatos e Historias de México” they usually do very interesting research, with a perspective view, on the events of that stage. Finally there is a micro-series, very attached to the literature of the time, called “Cries of Death and Freedom” is also highly recommended.

Grant: What are the different factions involved in the game?

Saul: We have two overall factions with several different elements under each of these. First is the Insurgent factions, one in the south under the command of Morelos and the other in the west under the command of Hidalgo. Also two Royalist factions, one in Spain under Calleja and the other in the center under Venegas. In addition, there is a fifth military faction with Iturbide at the head.

Grant: How do these factions differ in their troops and fighting style?

Saul: Factions are customized by the skills of their leader and by the combination they make with cards from other characters and events, so we can see, Hidalgo can recruit and attack and gets bonuses with certain cards, while Calleja instead marches and he attacks in the same turn and gets bonuses with cards other than Hidalgo’s.

Grant: The game is designed for 1-4 players. What are the different player modes and how do they differ?

Saul: Solo mode. Inspired by Chad Mestdagh’s solo system, we customized the system for Patria Libre. Simulating a game with two players, the opponent’s move is determined by a random archetype card, thus we realize what action the opponent prefers to take. The opponent card has ordered preferences for him, if it is not possible to do an action, we move on to the next preference, the card also indicates preferences on territories and popularity board. 

1vs1 Mode. Very dynamic games where tactics are as important as strategy. Cards are usually very crucial, but no less than good popularity management. 

Military faction mode (for 3players). Before this mode, in three-player games, one took control of two factions by simulating two people. This point was the most criticized by playtesters and reviewers. In response to this, we introduce an opportunistic military faction. This faction does not score points towards itself but gives them to the other two factions, he wins in conjunction with another ally faction. However, it can win alone, so it is very dangerous. 

Teams mode (2vs2). This game mode adds some chaos, coordinating can achieve captures or dominions faster than the 1vs1 mode. Like the other game modes, it offers a recommended and different experience.

Grant: What kind of an experience does the solo mode AI create? How does the AI prioritize its decisions?

Saul: As I mentioned previously, the AI ​​cards have their preferences ordered. It offers an interesting and unpredictable experience, it has a slight advantage, when it does not manage to do one of its first 5 preferences then it recovers the orders and takes a new turn. This makes it difficult to beat.

Grant: How do the players use orders to take actions?

Saul: The process is very simple, as you simply choose one of your orders in your play area, the action shown is what you can do (face up) and you place it in a province where you have sufficient strength.

Grant: What are the different actions available to players?

Saul: Recruit, march, attack, train, build, buy, collect, clone one of the above. You can also use any of your order tokens to activate cards.

Grant: What requirements must be met to recruit units? What different units are available and how do they operate?

Saul: Patria Libre tends toward minimalism in order to keep the rules overhead low and focus on playability and strategy; you cannot have more than one troop per province. So when recruiting you place an infantry in an adjacent province without your troops. The infantry is the weakest piece, but if it is attacked by a strong piece, the attacker will lose popularity. Cavalry can march up to two spaces. The artillery has a rank of 2, it can attack adjacent provinces, which is a huge advantage.

Grant: How do units level up and what new capabilities do they gain? What does this represent from the history of the conflict?

Saul: Troops level up with the train order. From infantry to cavalry and from cavalry to artillery. This represents using a turn training your troops to be more effective.

Grant: How do players build a fortress and what benefit do they offer?

Saul: To build the fortress you need to spend two turns; it is done in two separate phases. This reflects the real world issues with logistics and construction time. When you complete the fortress, you get 3 benefits, you go up two levels of popularity, it gives you two more points of strength in that province and absorbs one level of impact in case of attack.

Grant: How are taxes collected? What negative effects does this provide?

Saul: When placing the order collect taxes you receive two pesos or three if you place it in a province with a mine icon. This mine icon represents a more wealthy province and reflects that they pay more when taxed. As you might imagine, people get upset when they are taxed and you will have to lose a popularity level. This must be managed as you need the income to recruit units and train them, as well as to build fortresses, but your popularity level is nearly as important and must be managed.

Grant: What event or character cards can be purchased by players?

Saul: All! This further mitigates the little randomness that the game has. It is not possible to use a card that is aligned with your enemy but you can exchange it for a peso and remove the possibility of your opponent using it. This is a big part of the design as sometimes you will simply be unable to use your most powerful cards because your opponent has purchased or drawn them.

Grant: Can we see a few examples of the events and characters and you explain their use and advantage?

Saul: As an insurgent, pay attention to the numbers on the sides, if they coincide it is because historically they share ideologies and that strengthens them by increasing popularity. The same happens with the realists but with the letters on the cards. When you activate the Morelos card you can compare a card and attack. Venegas allows you to raise a popularity level and attack.

With the Constituent Congress card, the player can gain 2 VP if they lose one infantry and one card from their hand. This is a hard choice and should be taken only when the losses incurred do not put your position of control in jeopardy.

To use Virgin of Los Remedios you have to be equal to or higher than the other player in the church column on the popularity board.

Grant: The shape of these various cards is very interesting. What does the shape and their dials offer the game? Where did this inspiration come from?

Saul: I always thought of this game by placing orders on the regions of the board. So the orders could be stacked, this led us to place tabs on them to identify their number and color. Later we did the same with the cards, this gives them historical coherence, but the square shapes covered the tabs of the orders. So we decided that the cards were round and everything was solved. I have not seen this solution before in middleweight games, it is my own contribution.

Grant: How is combat decided?

Saul: It’s simple, like the rest of the mechanics. Simply demote the attacked troop one level. This represents losses and the general exhaustion of combat. If it is an infantry, it leaves the game. If you attacked a weaker troop it loses its difference in strength in popularity levels. If there are no troops defending a leader and he is attacked, he is captured.

Grant: What area of Mexico does the map cover?

Saul: This game is set in North America in 1810, at that time New Spain came all the way from Alaska to Central America and the map is not just Mexico. This also justifies the title of the game.

Grant: What purpose does the Tablero do Popularidad serve?

Saul: It is very important, as well as the cards. It allows you to link actions in a forceful way, also with “positive” levels you can supply provinces when the supply cards are activated. If you go down on the track into its negative boxes you lose benefits or elements.

Grant: How is victory obtained?

Saul: There are four ways to win the game: A. Surpassing the opponent by 10 or more VP at any given time. B. Arriving or passing 30VP. C. Obtaining more VP than the opponent when depleting the cards. D. Controlling the opponent’s three flag provinces.

Grant: What are you most pleased with about the design?

Saul: With simple mechanics you cover topics such as: related characters and events, supplies, area control, integrated and simple combats, capture of leaders, characters that change faction, importance of popularity. I think we achieved an excellent synthesis of this historical period and told the story of the struggle. This is one of the things that was most important to me. To tell the story of the struggle for independence from Spain.

Grant: What has been the experience of your playtesters?

Saul: It has been very good, after the tests I provided them with a feedback sheet. The average rating is 8.7 (scale 1-10). The weak point was when they played it with three players, since one player played the role of 2 people. With the integration of the military faction, the three-player mode is now the same or more interesting than the other game modes.

Grant: What stretch goals will be included in the Kickstarter campaign?

Saul: These are basically for upgrading the components and getting game help, like quick setup sheets and flavor cards with information about the events.

Grant: When do you think the game will be fulfilled?

Saul: If the current campaign is successful the finished game will be ready in December of this year. I offered thumbnail files that do not interfere with manufacturing. The minis add at least another six months of production though.

Grant: What other games are you currently working on?

Saul: I have another game going on about the 1521 Conquest of America.

Thanks so much for your time in answering our questions Saul. I for one think that the game looks intriguing and I am very interested in the narrative that it creates. I wish you luck in the campaign and hope that all goes well for you.

If you are interested in Patria Libre: 1810 North American Independence, you can order a copy from the Kickstarter page at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/malinchegames/patria-libre-1810-north-american-independence-board-game

Also, you can download a copy of the English rules from the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2lu5qs1t3jklqij/ENGLISH%20PL%20PDF.pdf?dl=0

Finally, here is a link to a Tabletop Simulator page for the game so that you can play it if you wish: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2491269772

As of Wednesday, May 19th, the campaign is about 55% funded with $9,034 pledged toward the $16,722 goal from 159 backers with 12 days remaining. I am proud to say that I have backed the game and hope that you can help bring this one to the finish line.