News for August 2009
Musings of a Ruinous Power 4
A designer diary from Eric M. Lang
Chaos in the Old World | Published 28 August 2009

By now most of you have read the articles (and possibly even the game rules) which can be found here, and now we would like to present you with an exclusive look behind the curtain.

From Concept to Board
The original pitch, from the man himself (“the man” being FFG head honcho Chris Petersen), was simple: “players play the Gods of Chaos corrupting the world.” It was so simple, in fact, that I originally misunderstood; clearly a game concept this obviously cool was already produced! After being told that the game was mine to design, I seized the rare opportunity and ran with it.

The general structure for the game came to me within about half an hour of the initial meeting. For years I had wanted to do a big territory control board game with combat, but never got around to it because I was looking for something more. Having each player play a unique “personality” was the hook I needed. That those personalities are some of the storied icons of awesomeness to ever grace a fantasy world was icing on top of the cake.

A key point which I made sure to hold on to was that this game was not to be like Risk; unit combat was not the primary play pattern. As Ruinous Powers of Chaos, I wanted players to have a more holistic overview of the game they were playing. Which regions to dominate, which ones to corrupt and which ones to ruin? Which battles to fight, and why? How much power to spend on playing highly versatile but temporary chaos cards versus deploying more followers? Avoid the threats posed by the Old World deck or embrace them to further your victory condition? These are the choices I wanted players to face.

The Ruinous Powers
The more I read about the gods of Chaos, the more I realized how important it was that they all feel very different from one another in play. From the beginning I knew that each player would get their own custom deck of chaos cards to influence the board, but after a few initial revisions I decided to take the leap and make sure that not a single card effect was duplicated in more than one deck.

This extra effort paid off in spades. Each of the four Ruinous Powers felt like they were really bringing their own customized battle plan to the table, and they all played out quite differently even under the same set of rules.

I also knew from the beginning that each Ruinous Power would need its own separate victory condition. This would make players’ motivations fall in line with their god’s personality, allowing even the most casual Warhammer fan (or even non-fan) to get a good idea of what each of these foul beings are all about. The particular victory conditions practically wrote themselves, and only Slaanesh’s changed during the extended design period (to make it more flavorful).


The Dials
The biggest challenge with designing this game was to maintain tension between the two victory conditions without making them completely separate. The game wants you to semi-cooperatively corrupt and dominate the world, although only one player may claim supremacy. Each Ruinous Power’s alternate victory condition tugs them in a slightly different direction. How to make the two dovetail seamlessly without breaking the game’s wonderful narrative?


The dials were, as you may have guessed, inspired by FFG’s own Battlestar Galactica board game. But what compelled me to use them was the idea that each Ruinous Power could have a “reward track” that gave them either conquest points or an in-game advantage for playing “in character” throughout the game. The dials neatly replaced the need for charts and also provided nice dramatic moments during players’ first games. In addition, as players “dialed up” they would also increase their threat level, making them more susceptible to the targeted wrath of the Old World’s continuous attempts to expel Chaos.

The key point to the dials is that, while players will ultimately have to choose at some point in the game whether to try to win by straight up conquest or by their alternate victory condition, at no point is “dialing up” a wasted action. You gain conquest points, unit or power upgrades, and other game advantages for simply playing in character … so even if you’ve given up on racing to finish your dial, you still keep momentum on the primary victory condition.


And that’s it for the early design journal for Chaos in the Old World. I hope you have as much fun playing this game as I did designing it. I’d like to use this space to give due thanks to Jeff Tidball for being an amazing producer and JR Godwin and Jay Little for their boundless Warhammer expertise.

Enjoy wreaking havoc on the Old World!

Chaos in the Old World is a game of conquest, pitting the four Ruinous Powers of Chaos against each other for control of the Old World. Players must out summon, out play, and outwit theirs rivals to ensure their domination of the lands for ages to come.

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Comments (4)

Published: 8/29/2009 3:02:48 PM

Dadeo probably means the Warhammer: Invasion LCG which takes places in the same Warhammer universe as this game (ie: CinOW).

Published: 8/29/2009 11:12:28 AM

I don't believe CinOW is a LCG, but I definately hope they support it with an expansion or 2 in the future.

Published: 8/28/2009 12:50:26 PM

Will you (FFG) be releasing the figures from this boardgame as separate items for sale?

some of these plastics figures look fab...


Published: 8/28/2009 12:47:42 PM

 I am new to the Warhammer world, but this game, and the new LCG, have got my attention.  Got this one on pre-order, and can't wait to try it out.

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