Monday, March 29, 2010

10 Question with Battles of Westeros designer Rob Kouba

This is potentially the most inaccurate title for a post ever. There are two reasons for this - 1. it's got 12 questions in it and 2. these aren't exact quotes. Because Rob was so conversational with us when we played our first game of Battles of Westeros (not sure what we're talking about? check out our series of posts on our first experience with BoW here), we tried to keep things informal. With that in mind, these answers are summaries as opposed to direct quotes. It's less an interview with Rob Kouba and more a summary of our conversation. Thanks to everyone who suggested a question for us to ask, and a special thanks goes to Rob who made it all possible. Image is borrowed from FFG's own description page for Battles of Westeros found here.

1. Do we have a release date for Battles of Westeros?

No, not yet - still in final play testing of components - making sure the pieces are exactly how they want them. UPDATE: Since our conversation with Rob, FFG has announced that Battles of Westeros is going to be released in June - this is at least the planned date, but of course things could change!

2. How long has Battles of Westeros been in development?

The folks at FFG have been thinking about it for a while, but it's not been in development for a long period - Rob reports there has been lots to work on though.

3.  Will Battles of Westeros be accessible to people who have never read the books and if so, what kind of spoilers?

You can play without having read the books, but it adds a ton of flavor - we thought it was a lot like the Battlestar Galactica board game where the play supports the source, but it’s more fun with having known the characters and stories. The scenarios are based on the first book as Rob tried to stick very closely to the storyline.

4. What expansions are planned for Battles of Westeros?

Given it’s the "Core Set” and produced by FFG, there will be expansions. It seems to us (The Hopeless Gamer) that there will be house-based expansions, and Rob reports that any material regarding Houses Targaryen and Martell will likely be later additions to the game as they come in later in the story and may offer some interesting variations on the basic army with interesting mechanics.

5. Will the game support 3 or more players?

Currently it's designed for 2 players, but the board is built to be able to match up and combine several boards to make for a larger scale battle. The morale system is also set up on a sliding scale for two players, so adding more players by way of adding more sides to a battle could be complicated if the morale system would stay intact as is. You’d need to redesign how one side gains and one side loses morale.

6. Any mystical elements from the game?

Rob isn’t ruling anything out at this point - a dragon is just another piece to design mechanically at this point. His viewpoint is that anything, as long as it's accurate and integral (or just neat) to the story, he could find a place for it. A good example of this would be how he's worked the Stark wolf theme into the game with the Stark unique unit of Kennel Master.

7. Will Rob continue to be involved with future BoW and BattleLore expansions?

Rob’s been involved with all of the BL material released since FFG has taken over production from Days of Wonder. He reports that there will be a big announcement regarding classic BattleLore coming up (possibly the goblin army expansion just announced - we’re not sure) that will make fans happy - but we’re not sure what it is. Assuming there will be future expansions, he’ll continue to be involved.

8. What’s going on with BattleLore?

There will be an announcement soon that should ease some worries for classic BL fans (see previous question really).

9. Who sculpted the minis and will they continue into future expansions?

The mini’s are outsourced to the manufacturer who then gives FFG copies for approval. We did see some Stark cavalry units that Rob reports they weren’t happy about and were being redone. They were in a rearing pose that looked in a smaller scale - they were sent back to be redone. In the future, uniformity will likely continue to be a priority.

The art will also likely be familiar to fans of FFG’s other Game of Thrones games. Rob did mention that the art always has to go through George R.R. Martin (author of A Game of Thrones) for approval, and we assume this goes for for the minis as well

10. Will there be a custom scenario creator for BoW like there was for BL under Days of Wonder?

They had one for Tide of Iron that was taken down as it was not updated on their end to reflect the state of the game. Rob thought that, if they decide to do something for BoW, they would do it for ToI or similar games as well. It’s not in the works right now, but it’s not ruled out either.

11. Are there are any plans for custom FFG content like the Arkham Horror leagues/seasons?

No plan yet, but the game is designed to allow for a lot of customization and creativity. You could easily make the story moving between expansions with custom scenarios. There is a custom scenario based system available out of the box that allows players to play outside of scenarios in a fair way that could lend their use towards tournaments or a Call to Arms style game.

12. What house and characters are Rob’s favorite?

Stark is his favorite house along with Robb Stark for favoite character. These are his favorite aspects to play in the A Game of Thrones card game. He likes a lot of the houses but his personal least favorite is Targaryen.

Again, thanks to Rob for the time he spent with us showing how to play Battles of Westeros and answering all off our questions!


  1. So I get the impression that expansions will mostly follow the chronology of the books, but did Rob say anything about some of the retro-battles? I would love to see a scenario involving the Battle of the Bells, where Eddard and his army had to fight rooftop to rooftop/street to street in order to rescue Robert. I didn't think of that until just now, otherwise I would have sent it as a question.

  2. Third reason it is the most inaccurate title for a post: it should be "10 Questions", not "10 question".


    Good quasi-interview though


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