Success of First Edition Designer Interview

On the 19th of December 2004 I asked Roberto Di Meglio, one of the designers (together with Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello) of War of the Ring, to answer some questions about the now released game. The game had been recived well and several rumors about an expansion had begun circulating.

On to the interview...

Kristofer: What miniature designs were abandoned during the process?

Roberto: Not many. The Dunland Man, replaced by the Uruk-Hai, as Isengard Regular; and the Hobbit, replaced by the North Archer, as the North Regular.

Kristofer: What was your initial reaction to seeing the finished version of the game?

Roberto: A mix of excitement and relief - but mostly relief, for me! The game really was the way we imagined it - however I did not have a true "it's done" reaction, as the actual production process spanned 4 months from august to december, not without problems (I shortly had to address the problem of the collation problem in the plastic bags, for example). (I should mention that the first time I saw a complete copy of the game was at GenCon, and it was the English language edition)

Kristofer: Are there any thing(s) in the game play area that you think could have been improved even more?

Roberto: Personally, after 4 months, still I would not change the way the game works in any way. The feedback was almost completely positive; there were a few negative comments (e.g. the game is too long), but I think that most of them are very much in the realm of personal taste and I'd not change anything in the game to go in those directions. Possibly a better approach to the introductory rules and/or a tutorial, but that's more a problem about how the game is presented than the gameplay itself (I see the Intro rules as a step towards the complete game, more than a game in themselves).

Kristofer: What are your thoughts of the finished design of the game and the components such as the miniatures, cards and the board?

Roberto: As I am very much directly responsible of the way these things are, I am not really the best person to make an objective comment about them. I think that the problem about the font size in the cards is very real for some people and this was something we did not fully realize. This is the most likely change to happen if we will have a "second edition" in the future. The other thing I'd like to have (which was not included just for cost reason) is plastic disks which stack better than replacement counters, but I think this is a lesser problem. I'd like to have an even larger board, but then finding a table to play the game could be tough!

Kristofer: What were the reactions to the game when you showed the first copies at GenCon?

Roberto: Very positive. Francesco and Marco worked hard to teach the game, this is not an easy game for show.

Kristofer: Several questions have appeared about the rules and the Event cards, many are simply the result of players not reading the rules right or of players trying to find holes in the rules or about situations hardly ever appearing and didn't do so in the testing. There are however some questions that are the result of ambiguities in the Event cards, especially how they might affect each other. Do you think an extensive player aid (emphasizing the importance of when an effect "kicks in") for the cards should have been a good thing in hindsight?

Roberto: I think it would have been an unnecessary complication to the rules which would not be useful for most players. A certain level of nit-picking rightly belong to the FAQ more than the rules. Most players will be happy just to decide this kind of things among themselves. And anyway 99% of the rulings are just based on a strict reading of the rules and/or the cards, there are very few instances where the rulings would be necessary if just people were more trustful about the fact that the rules mean what they say!

Kristofer: As a playtester I know that there was a Shadow City in South Rhun at the end of the playtesting, this was later removed before production, why?

Roberto: We think that a Free People Military victory rightly belong to a secondary path to victory, and wanted to keep it this way. The city in South Rhun was somehow in contradiction with this approach. Anyway this is an easy "house rule" for people who want to make life easier for the Free Peoples!

Kristofer: Can you comment on the rumour of a possible expansion to the game?

Roberto: Yes, we will have an expansion. We plan to release it in fall 2005. It is a little bit early to say much more as most of it is not finalized. I can only say that this set will do more than just "add on" the existing gameplay... and of course many new figures people are wanting will be there!

Kristofer: Thank you very much Roberto for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer these questions.

Please note that some of the images on this website are a preview of Art by John Howe from "War of the Ring"
a game published by Ares Games under license from Sophisticated Games and Middle-earth Enterprises.