To say I’m enamored of my war game Field Marshals is a bit of an understatement. I’m fairly proud of the game, even though I know she has a long way to go. Since Farmageddon, I’ve killed two bad designs, spent 8 months trying to revive what may be a lost cause, and watched dozens of ideas just flounder. But, Field Marshals really excites me. I think it can eventually be a good, accessible war game worthy of publication. Fingers crossed!
I’ve spent a few nights building a really nice prototype. Most of the time I subject my testers to playing with colored index cards until I feel confident enough to order a nicer prototype through sites like The Game Crafter. I wanted to do something special with Field Marshals and my work has paid off. The purpose of this post is twofold:
- Show off the game!
- Tell you what I used so that it may help you when building your own prototypes.
Sourcing the Wood
Craft Parts has a fantastic selection of wooden components at very reasonable prices. My game has a large number of wooden tokens, so I bought a bag of wooden disks, then stamped them with the appropriate symbols. I also wanted to build tiny fortresses, so I bought wooden blocks and little flat square tiles, which I then glued to the blocks.
To create coal, I spray painted a handful of the wooden disks with…spray paint. Although you can purchase little pawns from Craft Parts (If I’m not mistaken, it’s where Dice Hate Me Games bought their “brewples” for Viva Java), I used the extra pawns I received with Flash Point.
For my unit tokens (little colored cubes), I pillaged a classic box of Risk I have lying around. For only $20 the game provides HUNDREDS of pre-painted cubes. Quite handy!
One of the biggest inspirations for a mechanic in Field Marshals is the result of numbered wooden coins I bought from Aaron Brothers. Keep your eyes peeled any time you visit a remotely artsy store — you may find amazing components.
Stamps, Fancy Papier
There’s a really cool print/paper craft store in my neighborhood called Paper Source. Perhaps you have one near you? If not, Michael’s or any other craft store should have what you need. For my capital tokens I bought a star stamp. I found a really simple anchor stamp for my seaports, then purchased a set of letters for everything else.
The game uses a really simple card layout. Each player has a small deck of identical cards. I bought blank, colored business cards from Paper Source in packs of 25 for $2 apiece. I then printed the symbols on simple square labels and appended them to the cards. The cards look great and they shuffle better than index cards.
Labels are your friend. Go to Office Depot and buy labels in all sizes.
For my game board I purchased Illustration Board from Office Depot. I was even able to make a set of thick player reference boards using the extras after sizing the board down. Again, labels were my friend. I also bought some lamination material to apply once the board layout settles down a bit.
I purchased the little cloth bag from Paper Source.
Finally, I am never without a stack of pencils, erasers, white-out, scissors, super glue, wood glue, crayons, and card stock. These are the tools of prototyping and you should have a desk covered in this junk.
I spent many hours printing and applying labels, tracing circles, gluing wood (and ungluing my fingers), but it was ultimately well worth it. It sounds silly, but a nice prototype makes a huge difference. Instead of a game that looks like work, you suddenly have a game that looks like fun. Never underestimate the impact this can have on your testers.
Share your prototype pictures. What tips do you have?