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Posted on Jul 18, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega

By Rick Martin

Interview with War of the Worlds Game Designer Arnauld Della Siega

Rick Martin

1) Tell us about yourself?

Hello Richard. I am a 41 year old French guy who loves a lot of things such as Lovecraft, car racing and astronomy. I have been a part of the gaming hobby since 1995 first as a player (with Ambush! and Fall of Rome (Strategy &Tactics issue 191)); then as a translator; then as a reviewer (for the French magazine Vae Victis); and lastly as a designer. I like simple games and due to a chronic lack of players, solitaire systems have my preference. It is a pity Blood Bowl doesn’t have solitaire rules because this game is a blast!

2) How did you become a game designer?

As far I can remember, I always created something, either gamebooks or strange novellas or game rules. I still need to create – it is my fate. The 1st project (still unpublished) I showed to publishers was a tactical game recreating battles between weak humans and tripods and other creatures coming from 19th Century literature. Originally, The War of the Worlds was designed as a gift for the players who would have bought this game. My first published game is No Man’s Land : trench warfare (Ludifolie). I am not fully satisfied with that game, but as it is now sold out and out of print, I think that players like it.

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I tend to develop solo rules because I know how boring it is to have no opponent. But designing efficient solo rules is no picnic! I admire designers who made excellent solo systems.

3) What specific time periods and subjects are you interested in for your game designs?

Time period: World War 1, at a tactical level – with tanks! Subjects: everything epic- from Samurai fights à la Saint Seiya (A wonderful Japanese animation created by Masami Kurumada that I translated [all 114 episodes and 4 movies!] back in the 1980s and 90s – Editor Rick Martin), adventures in a haunted mansion with a lot of creatures to fight, and, of course, racing games. The games I design are here to satisfy a fantasy, make larger-than-life situations alive and permit me to be a part of it. And, by the way, I love to include Easter eggs in my game!

Any hint as to the Easter eggs in War of the Worlds?– A lot of Easter eggs disappeared during the course of the development, as the location of Woking, the evocative name of the scenarios, some typical words as Powder Mills. Some are the names of French areas : Cholet is where I was born, Le Chesne is where my grandparents come from (you also find this town in my No Man’s Land game and Montcuq is a small village made known by a famous French sketch in the 70’s. You will also recognize my face on the Officer’s counter or Dan’s face on the Curate’s counter.

I also love Antiquity (exotic Assyrians etc.), brave medieval knights and colored Lansquenets, but, sadly, I am not clever enough to design a game on these nice topics. Too bad!

4) Tell us about your War of the Worlds games that have been published by DVG.

The War of the Worlds is a labor of love really. During the development, made by DVG – Kevin has an unlimited capacity of work – I learnt what a game development is made of: negotiations and heart break. I had a lot of sleepless nights: I saw my game, my baby, being ripped apart in development in order to match the publisher’s constraint. But, at the end, it is still exciting to have these games in the hands of the players and with such awesome graphics. And, hey, if the players are happy with the final game, the goal is achieved.

5) What specifically interested you in designing a game based upon H.G. Wells’ classic book?

I really love H.G. Wells as well as Lovecraft. Later I learnt that Wells wrote some things about tanks (Land Ironclads) and designed some rules for war gaming (Little Wars). My love for him increased and my game is a tribute. I am not fond of games that are loosely based on the War of the Worlds universe. I wanted mine to be the mirror of the novel. For some things, I am intransigent, as a WW2 enthusiastic who wants to have a lot of details. War of the Worlds is, for me, such a thing.

6) How long did it take you to design the game?

I began the design with the birth of my first son. That’s the reason why I am really attached to it. It took me about 8 years. I didn’t work all this time on the game of course. There were some periods of reflections, some periods during which you have to let the game aside in order to have a fresh eye when I decided to play test it again. I wear a lot of play testers out .
I was really proud of the version I showed to DVG.

7) How did the final design which was published by DVG differ from your original vision?

As I said, I wanted something very close to the book. It is not because the book doesn’t show the ‘real’ history that we have to make concessions with historical accuracy. I am someone very stubborn when I am convinced my ideas are good – and after these 8 years I was sure about them.

My worst disappointment was the rejection of my decks of cards. The game was a sort of card driven game. But I’ve been told that there were too many decks of cards in the game. I hate dice rolls and I find my system of cards drawing had its charms.

Except for the cards, the overall system is quite similar to mine, but it is all about details and, in a game that has taken me 8 years to design, details are essential for balance and game play because they are a part of an ensemble. We call it optimization. When you change some small things, they may have a huge impact.

DVG also changed my Flying Machine rules and add multiplayer rules in order to bind all the fronts. The idea to be a leader in a global conflict is something very crazy and exciting!
The scenarios in the box are not mine neither. I wanted to offer an overview of the book, to tell a story, Kevin, who is more pragmatic wanted to explore the game possibilities of the system.

8) What would you like people who play War of the Worlds to know about your design?

How to stop a Martian invasion! My game was designed to be a struggle for life, a desperate combat where humans had a few chances to win – as in the novel. But I have been told it is not appealing enough. However are there some games about the Alamo, right?

9) What is your next project?

I currently work on a simple WW1 strategic game for Vae Victis (planned for 2019), playable with 2 players or solo. Some publishers also received a prototype for my RC car racing game. My problem is I am too fertile. Answering your question, I am completing the rules of my “Blood Bowl” –like project. I have about 10 games on my computer, some are really exciting. But it is the development of a game that decides if this game will be good or excellent. Perhaps one day you will play one them ;)

10) Thank you so much for taking part in this interview. Any other subjects that you would like to discuss in this interview?

I’d like to highlight the fact that the system would be perfect for expansions. When I showed it to Dan I had the idea of Kaiju (Godzilla etc.), zombie invasions, Ghostbusters. If you like the system, tell Dan you want these expansions!!

Also, my dream would be to have my original version of War of the Worlds published as a special edition with those unreleased lovely cards hand drawn by Sir Nicolas Treil.

Last thing: hey Dan and Kevin, continue your fantastic job! You have a huge mass of fans over here!

4 Comments

  1. What a great interview! He sounds really grounded and speaks like real “gamer”. I would LOVE to see his tactical WWI trench game… during the many decades I’ve been gaming I’ve picked up only a handful of WWI games that operated like this… “Trench Foot” by GDW (1980’s) and Richard Borg’s “The Great War” by PSC. I am a fiction writer and love to use games to flesh out a battle scene or where the character falls in all of that. Game-wise, I’ve got a lot on my plate with Kickstarter and other “Wants”. But I’d love to give this game a try… not so long ago I backed “Triplanes and Tripods” by Ares Games, a miniature game. I was intrigued by his mentioning of a card driven game… I’d love to see how that works and what the art looks like.

    • Hello Jim,
      It is words like yours that give us the motivation to keep on designing. As I said, my No Man’s Land is OOP, so getting a copy may be rather difficult.
      The artwork was made by Nicolas Treil too (as for War of the Worlds). Maps and counters are awesome. Believe me !
      The rules were poorly written, I think, but I continually correct them and clarify them (there are living rules on Boardgamegeek).
      But I think about a sequel if the community wants more.
      Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss : I am on Facebook, Boardgamegeek etc.

  2. I picked up the England version of this. It’s a fun game with really nice atmosphere and beautiful artwork. The only problem – it’s so hard for the Humans to win. In about a dozen plays so far, the Humans have only had one victory! Very challenging.

    • Hi Rick,
      very happy you like it ! Nicolas made an outstanding work. And some of his nicest cards have not been published yet.
      1 victory for 12 plays ? Ouch. I don’t have the souvenir of such difficulty.
      If the game is really impossible to win for you, feel free to contact me in private – we would see together if the original rules is more satisfying for your Victory/Loss ratio.

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