Battleground Fantasy is a points based fantasy combat system that uses cards rather than the typical miniatures that you would find in other games. The Battleground system gives you all strategy and detail that you would expect from a minis game but without the hassle of assembly and painting a lot of miniatures. This makes the system super portable also so you could take it to the office and play a game during your lunch hour without bringing along all the minis. Today I have caught up with Corey Somavia from Your Move Games the designer behind the next generation of Battleground Fantasy.
I’ve been playing games since a friend showed me the D&D Red Box during 4th grade recess. By the late 90s, I put away Vampire the Masquerade and Cyberpunk 2020 for miniatures games: 40K, Bloodbowl, Mordheim…but ironically not Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
In the early-2000s, riding alongside the “3.5 Boom” was a wave of skirmisher miniature games for us to play: Rezolution, Wargods of Aegyptus, and a quirky card/minatures game called Battleground Fantasy Warfare.
In 2016, my business partner and I acquired the rights to Your Move Games with the intent of revitalizing the Battleground Fantasy Warfare line. And with that I took the leap to becoming a game designer, publisher, and entrepreneur.
What brought you into game design?
Have you ever looked at 1st ed AD&D? That was not a system that lends itself to out-of-the-book play…
Joking aside, most gamers are designers at a certain level. Games are essentially puzzles, whether that puzzle is figuring out a trap in a dungeon or optimizing the placement of your workers. Game design is another puzzle: a blend of creativity and critical thinking that always appealed to me.
What is currently your favorite game to play?
My previous go-to game (when I took off the designer hat) was Star Wars Armada, but the past couple of years has been really rough on tabletop gaming. I’ve come back home to D&D, with a solid group that meets reliably every two weeks for the past two years.
What was your favorite part about the design process?
The stage right after the Blank Page stage. There’s nothing more exciting and horrifying as a blank page: anything is possible, but you have no idea which direction you should go. The stage after, where you’ve made decisions about the parameters of your design, is the most fulfilling. Once you’ve created a box to work within, so to speak, you can now get down to the actual crafting part of the design. This is the place, where creativity has direction towards your end goal, that is the most exhilarating and rewarding.
When designing the newest version of Battleground, what part did you think improved the most?
That’s a tough choice between the new art and the new rules, but I’d probably have to say the rules. We redesigned every faction to ‘tell the story’ of that faction through its rules. We don’t have expensive rulebooks full of lore, so our rules really have to drive home the theme to the players. Dwarves need to be stubborn and tough. Orcs needs to be ferocious and brutal. Undead needs to be horrifying and a little gross.
And I think we accomplished that. Dwarves have Bears the Grudge where they fight harder against a certain enemy. Orcs have Warcry for when they crash into the enemy. And The Risen Kingdom has Necromantic Spells for a variety of dirty tricks.
What's next for you?
We’ve already begun development of new factions and reprinting existing factions. Our next new faction will be Warriors of Midgard, a take on fantasy vikings. The next set of reprints will be what we tentatively are calling our Broken Alliances wave: High Elves, Dark Elves, and Elves of Ravenwood.
In addition, we’re looking into diversifying into other board games. Battleground is our flagship product, but we definitely want to be more than just ‘the Battleground company.’
What was the hardest issue you had to overcome while designing Battleground?
I think components are the universal challenge for every game. And there’s not really a right answer, as each design philosophy has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, Star Wars Armada has a lot of components, including those gorgeous miniatures. The downside is that set up and storage is an issue. Similarly, Armada is working with an established lore. The designers may not have the freedom to change that lore, but the when Darth Vader starts killing his own officers for an in-game benefit, everyone gets the reference.
By virtue of making different decisions about components, Battleground has a different set of advantages and disadvantages. A compact box filled with unit cards means it’s playable on most spaces, quick to set up, and easy to store. However, we only have the back of those unit cards to show you our world. We spend weeks editing the 2-3 sentences of space we get to pack in as much lore as we can.
What is your favorite unit in the Battleground Fantasy Warfare Series?
I’m going to cheat and pick one for each of the new factions, because I simply can’t narrow it down! Dwarves: Miners. I love how the unit’s Tunneling rule gives the Dwarves “mobility but not speed.” Slow moving armies (i.e. Dwarves) have a real hard time in games where maneuver is all-important, and this unit helps them with that while not making the Dwarves feel un-Dwarfy.
Risen Kingdom: Wights. Old school D&Ders remember how terrifying Wights were, because they drained levels off your characters. The Life Drain ability on our Wights mimics that effect of degrading enemy units, and they invoke that same panic in the opposing player.
Orcs: Crazed Goblins! These guys have great attack stats but random attacks and they can hurt themselves! They are, quite simply, hilarious fun to play. Yes, you can take an entire line of them. And, yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Do you have any advice for up and coming designers?
Borrowing from a song, my advice is this: it’s a job. It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job. There’s fun parts and not-fun parts, but all of it is work. Go into the process knowing that you will have to work harder on this than most other jobs.
And hold on to those bright moments. When you get that first piece of artwork. When you get that first good review. That moment when your Kickstarter funds. The first time you hold the finished product in your hands. Those are the moments that get you through the un-fun parts, when you realize that you could’ve quit at any moment, but you didn’t.
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
This swallow is no more! It has ceased to BE!!
Don't forget to check out the Kickstarter for Battleground Fantasy.