|A Guide To Westeros
Christian Petersen answers questions about Battles of Westeros and BattleLore
|Battles of Westeros | Published 22 February 2010|
Christian Petersen, the CEO of FFG, sat down over the weekend to answer a few questions about Battles of Westeros and BattleLore. Check out his responses, as well as his insights into the future of this exciting game, below!
Q: Does Battles of Westeros use the same game system as BattleLore?
CP: No. While both are games of medieval army battles and have some slight similarities, they are different games.
Q: How are they different?
CP: In the coming months we’ll post a number of previews on this site that will delve into the details, so I can’t (and won’t) spoil them here. The classic BattleLore game is based on Richard Borg’s “Command and Colors” game system, while Battles of Westeros is an entirely new engine, one that is significantly more involved than C&C and more in tune with FFG’s design principles. We’re really excited about this system and we think that players will love it.
Q: Why call it “A BattleLore Game”?
CP: We acquired BattleLore to be our core brand for medieval tactical warfare games (in the scale represented in the classic BattleLore game). The BattleLore name is not necessarily tied to Richard’s “Command and Colors” system.
Q: Why George R.R. Martin’s “Westeros”?
CP: The IP of GRRM’s epic series of novels “A Song of Ice and Fire” is closely tied with FFG’s history. For example, one of FFG’s best-selling games of all times is the “A Game of Thrones” board game. Also, we have been publishing the “A Game of Thrones CCG” since 2002 (which in 2008 was converted to our LCG format), and we have the “A Song of Ice and Fire Adventure Game” in our R&D hopper. This is an IP that we love, that we’re proud to be associated with, and that has been very commercially successful for FFG over the years.
GRRM’s Westeros, while a created world, is not “fantasy” per se. It’s a wonderfully deep, gritty, medieval setting that channels the historic “Wars of the Roses” rather than “The Lord of the Rings”. The classic BattleLore game (which we purchased from Days of Wonder in ’08) had an eclectic mix of a Fantasy and historic medieval theme that FFG has never been comfortable with. We solve this problem with Battles of Westeros, which will take on the role of our gritty, no-magic, medieval warfare game, while the classic “BattleLore” game’s trajectory will be of more traditional fantasy.
Q: Does the “Core Set” subtitle on the Battles of Westeros box imply that there will be expansions?
Absolutely. The core set includes the main forces for Houses of Lannister and Stark, and we look forward to introducing the other major Houses as well as the many smaller houses, characters, and (often brutal) factions that inhabit Westeros. It’s going to be great fun to see a great variety of Westeros characters and battles come to life over the next 2-3 years.
Q: Will the classic BattleLore game continue to be supported?
CP: Yes. We are working on new releases as we speak, one of which will be announced on the FFG site in the near future.
Having said that, I want to make a clarification on the expectations for BattleLore. Last year, Richard posted some ideas for “future releases” for BattleLore. Unfortunately, some fans took this post as canon, and are now expecting these specific releases. I think it important to note that while they were well-intended ideas of Richard’s, they did not fall in line with FFG’s vision. What we’re working on with Richard currently has no relation to anything in that old post, but something entirely new and different.
Q: Speaking of BattleLore, the main BattleLore game has been out of print for a while. Will this come back into print?
CP: There have been, and continue to be, some very serious issues in reconciling the production methods and expectations in the way Days of Wonder produced the BattleLore main game with those of FFG. We understand the lack of availability is an issue and we’re working on a solution. This issue has also affected the German version of BattleLore, while there are still good supplies of the French edition.
There’s a particular trap in manufacturing games, and it’s one that applies here. The initial printing of a game is typically printed in large volumes, which means that certain efficiencies of this volume are not able to be replicated in a smaller (i.e. reprint level) production. This is a trap that FFG works hard to avoid in its own manufacturing, but the original BattleLore printing was of course not in our production control. Not only was BattleLore caught in this trap, but the game was priced aggressively to begin with, even assuming the best of production efficiencies. On top of that, the factory that DOW used for this production essentially admitted to pricing their manufacturing of the original BattleLore “to get the business in the door” -- which means that the costing levels on the first run was eminently underpriced.
This, set against the overall backdrop of an already steeply escalating cost in game manufacturing, has made the core game a serious issue. Reprinting the core game “as is,” would essentially result in a near $150 retail price point, which is obviously unacceptable.
Q: Was this a surprise?
CP: When we took over BattleLore, the key value to FFG was the BattleLore brand. Which, as you can see, we’re carrying forward with Battles of Westeros.
We were concerned that the classic BattleLore base game, as had been created by Days of Wonder (“DOW”), was going to be troublesome on a production level. We did not, to be honest, expect it to essentially be non-manufacturable, as is the case.
So, as I said before, we’re working on a solution to this problem, and we have some short-term solutions that I think will work very well for players looking to get into BattleLore.
Q: Such as?
CP: I’ll have to defer the details and the exact “when” for another day when the details are more concretely in place (they are subject to change at this point.)
Q: In terms of German BattleLore, it has been noted that the most recent expansion “Creatures” will not be available in the German language.
CP: That is correct. The German publisher Heidelberger Spieleverlag, has done an outstanding job of taking on the German BattleLore mantle. Unfortunately, related to the manufacturing issues of the core set, it is not feasible for them to continue a localized edition of BattleLore. Heidelberger will continue to distribute the English language version, and will make German translations available online for all the new content. This is not a reflection on the German Battlelore fanbase, which has been amazing, but simply a casualty of the transition.
Q: Who is your favorite “Song of Ice and Fire” character?
CP: Why, Tyrion Lannister. Isn’t it everybody’s?
CP: Oh, well.
Q: Do you know when the next GRRM book is coming out?
Set in the rich and vibrant world of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Battles of Westeros is a board game of tactical battlefield combat for two players. With scenarios that include beloved characters and settings, players can recreate the most significant battles from The War of the Five Kings.
"Don't hold FFG accountable for R. Borg and DoW's promises they never intended to keep."
I take great offense that you imply Richard some how made promises he never INTENDED to keep. He is a personal friend of mine. If he had it his way all the various races, scenarios, variant play styles, and other goodies I've experienced as one of his playtesters would all be in print and he would be spending his days sittin' back countin' his money on a beach somewhere. But they aren't and he doesn't. He has no control over when or what of his products get produced.
Until Christian just explained it I didn't know why "BattleLore" was out of print. And I appreciate him letting us know why. My friend who works for a distributor was constantly askin' me to ask Richard when it was comin' back in print, because he has retailers who want it. All I could tell him was he didn't know.
Back to my original reason for postin' this, "nilhaus" in the future why don't you keep your lies about Richard to yourself?
To Richard, I know you'll probably tell me I shouldn't have posted this but that comment really made me mad.
While I am thankful to finally have some honest answers about what is happening with BattleLore, it is frightening (and disappointing) to hear the CEO admit that FFG has "never been comfortable" with BattleLore's theme, and that the sorts of ideas that excite longtime fans of the game do not fall in line with "FGG's vision".
It is good to hear that new releases for Classic BattleLore are still being worked on (whatever those might be) and I will be first in line to purchase them, however in light of these resent announcements I must be careful not get my hopes up too high when it comes to the future of my favorite game. I haven't given up, but I'm VERY worried.
Even though I personally find it distasteful to slap the BattleLore name onto obviously non-BattleLore games, FFG has chosen to make this their catch-all brand for tactical warfare games now, so I'll have to learn to live with it. Nobody's forcing me to buy Westeros or any future "BattleLore" mutations, so let them go off and do their "gritty no-magic" thing. I don't care, as long as Classic BattleLore continues to be supported. There are still a lot of devoted Classic BattleLore fans out there (it's just too bad none of them work for FFG).
I'm just really impressed with how Mr. Peterson says things here. I'm constantly communicating with different members of management at my company and I'm always evaluating how the good communicators say things versus the bad ones and Mr. Peterson can give them all lessons. He's very, very blunt yet says things in a way where it's hard to find fault with him. This is just really a wonderful learning opportunity.
Don't hold FFG accountable for R. Borg and DoW's promises they never intended on keeping. FFG has done a lot for BL, and I don't see why people think this means they won't continue supporting it. If anything it will open up new doors and venues for BL to grow in the future.
Although I'm sure this new game will have it's fans, I have to add my voice to the others and say that I'm more than a little dissapointed. I suppose that at best this means that the real Battlelore will be taking a backseat. I can't imagine it makes any kind of financial sense to keep putting out expansions for a game they can't afford to have produced/reprinted. I suppose the last few expansions released were part and parcel of the deal, and maybe the project they are working on with Richard Borg will be a final memorial to a great game, killed off before its time.
I doubt I will be buying this new 'Battlelore' game, partly because I am not interested in the setting and...well, it's not Battlelore. Shame.
As a BattleLore player, thought I admit not a consistent one, I had been waiting for months and years for DOW to produce something other than medieval tactical battle supplements with the sheerest fantasy overlay. Where were the heroes we'd been promised? What about dragons? Other races? We kept getting promises but no action. After FFG bought the series, there was a slight wait, and then in a matter of months, we've had Heroes, Dragons, and magical creatures. So it seems to me FFG is supporting the BL line and wants to see it succeed,but as a more dedicated fantasy tactical battle game, which is what I'd like to see myself. So judging from their past performance and from what CP said, I don't think this is the end of the line for BL at all. I disagree with their using the brand for the Westros game, but I appreciate CP being upfront and explaining the situation as clearly as he did.
Once the dust settles, it seems like this could be a win-win all around for both BL enthusiasts and Westros/medieval, historical battle enthusiasts. Time will tell, but I found Christian's comments hopeful and positive in this regard.
While this release could be a great game in itself (as I plan to evaluate it) some comments that CP made about Battlelore in here shook me scared. Battlelore has an ecletic mix of historic and fantasy that FFG has never been comfortable with?! Thanks for the sincerity, but why purchase the series then?
I am a big FFG fan and I do like the direction they're taking with their games - with complex and epic games that are very unique in their way - however I don't understand the point in buying a series to change it. You surely could design a medieval army system without having to purchase one just to change it - what's the benefit?
It's possible that I'm being pessimist and the classic BattleLore line will continue unharmed as we hope it will - but it seems that there's a chance that it won't happen, and this is terrible news. Oh boy I'm glad I got it from DoW when they were available... and here's to hoping that BattleLore won't die.
As an addendum to my last post - I'd like to agree with the other poster who said at least FFG are very open about what they are doing and why. Very Admirable.
I'd agree that using the Battlelore name in this way is confusing and odd (let me declare that I'm not into Battlore so I have a slightly more objective view?)
This is typical of the way corporates monkey around with brand names, and unless done really honestly, it usually stinks.
FFG has bought Battlelore - realised that Manufacturing is a huge problem, so all the have left is a name that they're trying to use somehow and get they're money's worth.
Let's be honest here: Surely it is a "Song of Ice and Fire Game" and not a "Battlore Game"
With that aside, this game looks really interesting, and both it and Battles of Napoleon will be fixed on my radar!
I'm so disappointed... So much expectations not met with BL and know this... Westeros "thing". Life is unfair :( !
So we still have to wait to find out about what will happen to BL. It seems they don't like it though...
I won't support Westeros. I want BattleLore stuff.
I'll be patient to see what is this new and entirely different thing they are working on with R.Borg. Is it the tombstone of BL or a bigger and better expansion for the game to push it forward?
I wouldn't mind if they make the game more fantasy and less historical as seems to be the case here. And I wouldn't mind if they worked with R.Borg to create something new, that still is BattleLore though as long as they create adaptation kits for the veteran BL players.
I like this game!!