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!
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
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.