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Have you ever wondered what it takes to make your own board game?
Two local high school teachers, Rylie Hilscher, who teaches English, and Adam Higginbotham, who teaches Government and Economics, have found common ground in their love of modern board games, and they’ve taken their passion and expertise to the next level. “Fields of Agincourt” took over a year and a half to create and now that it’s been designed and planned to perfection, the pair are hoping to share their creation with the public.
If you’ve ever wondered how a complex game like this is created, today’s the day you have those questions answered. I was able to talk with Fields of Agincourt creator, Rylie Hilscher, and ask all those burning board game questions.
FresYes: What inspired you to create a board game?
Rylie Hilscher: Our inspiration comes from two places. Board games are comprised of “mechanics” and “theme.” Our main mechanics were inspired by the family of board games known as “tile placement games.” Tile placement games are unique in that, instead of having a board, the players create the board as they play. Tile placement games are enjoyable to play over and over because each game creates a unique board.
The most well-known modern example of this type of game is Carcassonne. Carcassonne came out in 2000 and won the “board game of the year” award for that year (Speil des Jahres). Adam and I both thought it was time for a new game in the family of Carcassone.
Our theme was inspired by the Battle of Agincourt (in 1415). This is a famous battle that took place between Henry V’s England and the French. The English were vastly outnumbered yet still won the victory using superior tactics and positioning. The moments for the battle are memorialized in Shakespeare’s Henry V, in which the King makes the excellent “St. Crispin’s Day” speech. I’m a huge fan of this speech and every year I recite it from memory for my students. We wanted our game to take place in that time period and we wanted players to use similar tactics. However, we didn’t want our game to be a simple historical simulation of the Battle of Agincourt. That would have limited us to a two-player game.
FY: Can you explain how you play Fields of Agincourt?
RH: Fields of Agincourt is a game for 2-5 players and typically takes 30-60 minutes to play. We consider it a “medium weight” game in complexity, and it is geared towards anyone over the age of eight that enjoys a fun, combative board game.
The game features these board game mechanics: tile placement, tile drafting, tile stacking, and area control. Basically, each player takes the role of an army commander. As the game progresses, players place units onto tiles they have played, trying to gain advantage over the other players (and avoiding the plague). Once all the tiles have been placed, each contested area is resolved. Victory points are then tallied to determine the final victor.
FY: What was the game creating process like for you?
RH: We spent about a year and a half creating the game. About six months designing and play-testing the game, to make sure it worked well and was fun. One of the most challenging design aspects was to get the game to work for both two players and five players. We wanted gameplay to be fairly quick so players wouldn’t be waiting around for a long time for their turn to come around.
Once gameplay was finished, we spent about eight months on art and graphic design. The art for the game went through dozens of changes and improvements. We were happy with our art, but based on feedback, we wanted to increase the visibility of the different types of tile in the game. It looked nice but everything tended to blend together a bit visually. Eventually we found a Canadian map artist named Tiffany Munro who redesigned our tiles for us. Our overall concept for the art was for the tiles to look like they were part of a map, so she was perfect.
Writing and designing our rulebook was also a massive effort. Graphic design and layout taxed our skills to the maximum.
In all, developing the game to a polished final product took hundreds of hours and thousands of decisions and changes. A long, but very fun and creative process.
FY: How can we get this game?
RH: We are attempting to raise capital to get copies of the game printed up. To make things economically feasible, most board game print companies require a minimum order of 1,000-1,500 units. We decided to use a crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, to fund our project. The basic idea of Kickstarter is to have a large number of people pledge small bits of money. In return for their pledge, backers get some type of reward. In our case, each backer that pledges $45 will get a copy of our game shipped to their door. We also have other pledge levels for international backers or those interested in a collector’s edition of the game. Currently we have raised $4,700, which is just under 20% of our goal. We hope to hit our funding goal by March 8 (if the goal is not met, then the backers are not charged any money).
We’d love for people to check out our project on Kickstarter. We think people will really enjoy our game. We plan on holding a release party where we can celebrate and teach people how to play.
Board games are a fun way to connect with people, and with a little luck and some cold hard cash, you may be able to lay Fields of Agincourt while reciting the St. Crispin’s Day speech from memory in the near future. “The fewer men, the greater share of honor!”
For more on Fields of Agincourt, you can follow Logos Games on Facebook here.