31 July 2014

Interview: Tide of Iron Interview

The Wargamer's Brant Guillory sits down with veteran board game designer John Goodenough to discuss Fantasy Flight Games' highly anticipated WWII boardgame, Tide of Iron.

Published on 5 APR 2007 5:54pm by Scott Parrino
  1. world war ii, turn-based, strategic, europe

Fantasy Flight's latest big box game is a subject near and dear to wargamers' hearts: World War II. The Wargamer has been tracking Tide of Iron since GenCon 2006. And while Brant is busy playing the heck out of it for a full review, we were able to wrangle designer John Goodenough into a brief interview to discuss some of the highlights of Tide of Iron, as well as provide us with some early production photos.

So until Brant can get the full review to us, this will have to, us, 'tide' you over:

Brant Guillory (BG): Give us three words that should come to mind when we get Tide of Iron in our hands.

John Goodenough (JG): Innovation, Strategy, Variety

Innovation
This word immediately springs to mind because many of the design issues were solved with innovative components and rules. The squad bases and squad specialization tokens are a simple yet highly effective way of managing your forces. The command system is an innovative way of representing resources and strategic control over the battlefield. The rules simulate historical detail and flavor but also use intuitive and streamlined systems. These are just a few of the innovations that you’ll find in Tide of Iron.

Strategy
There are many strategic decisions players make during a game of Tide of Iron. Even before the first round begins, players must choose how to build their squads and distribute their forces. Capturing command and victory point objectives is the key to success, but players must also manage their command points wisely. Is it better to spend command and seize the initiative this round, or is it better to spend the command to purchase more reinforcements? A Tide of Iron commander faces many interesting decisions.

Variety
The amount of variety in Tide of Iron is immense. The number of infantry, vehicles, fortifications, terrain, Operations cards, Strategy cards, and rules options is enough to keep even the most avid wargamer satisfied for many, many games.

BG: As the designer, what's the most exciting thing about this game for you?

JG: The most exciting aspect of Tide of Iron is the potential to further bridge the gap between boardgamers and wargamers.

I believe most wargames do not appeal to the average gamer simply because they seem too complicated. Their rules tend to be very long and detailed with special conditions to maintain historical accuracy. With Tide of Iron, we tried to strike a balance between incorporating historic details and streamlining the system so that the game does not get bogged down with the rules. Players will still feel the historic references without being overwhelmed by them.

The setup of a typical wargame, which can often involve hundreds of cardboard chits spread over a large grid of hexes, can be very intimidating to the average gamer. We designed the components for Tide of Iron to be readily accessible to non-wargamers. Our tokens are iconic, so that players intuitively know their function. Instead of using abstract and rather generic-looking chits to represent units, Tide of Iron features beautifully sculpted miniatures. Plus maneuvering an actual tank miniature is a more “user friendly” and visceral experience than a little cardboard chit can provide.

One of the biggest challenges a designer can face is to create a wargame that appeals to non-wargamers. I hope that Tide of Iron is such a game.