WWI, Fields of Despair


With today being Remembrance Day in Oz, and Veterans Day here in the USA I want to limit posts to this and the 11AM post below. I will share one quick update on a relevant topic for today’s Veterans.

Some of you may recall my posts from earlier this year regarding the new WWI title called Fields of Despair from #GMT Games.

Evocative name eh! Well Kurt has given us an exclusive look at his new sticker art for the game! Thanks mate!

Lots of play testing has been going on since I last wrote about FoD, and of course the usual run out at the GMT West event etc.

My suspicion is confirmed.

Though not a fan of more than 2 or 3 block games this one is on my radar for lots of reasons. But don’t listen to me, read the commentary from GMT West players and others below at the end of the post.

On the GMT Pre Order page  FoD is sitting in the 399 slot. Take a look and if innovative application of WWI history represented in a good looking package using blocks is your deal, then Pre Order! If it is not, then I encourage you to read the comments below and re consider. I’d love to be playing this by March next year, wouldn’t you?

Old Block Images

The pre production early draft art was bland to say the least, which was to be expected, given the development stage.

The new art leverages a watermark concept and some adjusted shading and color tone that really makes the stickers pop!

New Joel's FoD Block Labels

With the distinctive country and army specific watermarks and changes in color the counters really come alive and are informative without being busy. Excellent work, I think these will look stunning on the map!

Now those reviews and impressions:

Recent Reviews

Tim on 10/19/2014, said:
Normally I do not get excited by block games. They are fun, but a little to simplistic for my “wargaming” tastes. But not this game. This makes my P500 list. And it will be the first block game I have owned since the 8th grade. I sat down around 9am at GMT West with another curious soul to fiddle with it and spent 6+ hours digging into it. This feels to me like a hex based wargame with “real” fog of war. The mechanics are streamlined allowing for ease of learning, but they are substantial enough to provide a complex and challenging game. There is the Russian front, US entry, strategic warfare, technology research, forts, artillery, planes, maintenance, production and more. And all of these are interconnected during the economic phase when, as you may already suspect, there is never enough to do everything. Action on the map includes infantry, cavalry, air recon, dogfights, movement, artillery bombardment, combat, breakthrough movement, and breakthrough combat, and emergency transport of troops to the front or laterally to bolster a hex being attacked. Then someone starts digging trenches and the slugfest begins as we wait for gas, tanks, and the Russian front troops, and the US entry. All the time manpower and resources keep dwindling. Combat resolution uses “buckets of dice”, which makes for a real simple CRT. The basic roll to hit is 5 or 6, but forts, Big Bertha, Gas and Gas Mask technical advances will cause this to vary from just 6 to 3 thru 6.

Davis W. on 10/21/2014, said:

Not a big block gamer nor WWI gamer but really love this game. Played at the GMT open house 10/19/14 and enjoyed it. Very easy, lots of tension. Great way they handle artillery and airplanes. The production is critical and must be thought out carefully, what do you improve, artillery, air power, gas warfare, gas protection…. After playing the game it is now a must buy for me. Love the tension, fun, thoughtfulness of the game.

From BGG:

Kurt Keckley has a gem on his hands. It’s that simple.

Volko Ruhnke and I sat down Saturday afternoon at the GMT Fall Weekend to try Scenario 2: 1915-1916, to see how a block game which does just fine for the mobile warfare of 1914 handles the transition to trench warfare. The answer? It handles it just fine, thank you. Once the game transitions to trench warfare (noted on the turn track), then all hexes are assumed to have trenches. Trenches allow the defender to fire first and those losses take effect before the attacker gets to shoot. The defender also gets bonus dice based on the size of the attacking force, up to five extra dice.

So attacking the trenches is bloody, as it ought to be. He was also experimenting with the implementation of a Strategic Will rule that could lead to a side surrendering the war if it fell to 0. Not launching an attack of at least 10 strength points per turn (thus proving we’re still trying to win) causes the loss of a SW point, so you have to do at least one big push every six months.

Now with the blocks, you might think you have to just pick a spot and start bashing, but not quite. Each side has air assets for reconnaissance. Each air asset that gets past enemy interceptors can reveal a number of enemy blocks equal to its rating. So you can go looking for a possible weak spot before launching your big offensive. Each side also has artillery assets, which can be used either to soften a place up prior to assault, or to try and break up a pending assault. At the end of each phase (two phases per turn), each player has the ability to freely redeploy strength points but cannot vacate any currently occupied hexes. Given that each hex can have up to three units for each side (when contested) and each unit can have up to 20 strength points, and each side also has 0 Strength decoy units to deploy, trench warfare in Fields of Despair is a high-stakes poker game.

In our play, Volko entered the last turn up 2 VP because of a successful push northeast of Paris. To win I needed to regain three hexes; two for a draw. I attacked in strength in six areas; two were left with 1 German SP each, and two more with 2 SP. So close, yet so far!

The irony is that I suspect people sitting down to play FoD are likely to overlook this scenario dismissing three turns of trench warfare as “not fun.” They’ll be missing out on a really good scenario, but it’s all good, because they’ll still be playing Fields of Despair!

2 thoughts on “WWI, Fields of Despair

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.