Things are progressing, slowly but steadily.

Almost eight months have passed since the last A Battle of Dwarves Dev Diary, and friends have been asking me, “Are you still working on it?” About time for an update, I guess.

First things first: A Battle of Dwarves is alive and kicking. The English version counts 200+ cards and plays pretty well. The Italian translation is underway. Development-wise, three items remain:

  1. Keep playtesting it to fix problems with unclear card texts and mechanics. I’ve considered releasing a Print-and-Play (PnP) Beta featuring two factions instead of four, just to hear what others think. The main problem is that even a “limited” Beta amounts to about 100 cards which must be printed and cut. It’s unclear whether there are enough people out there willing to do something like that for a game that’s a) still in development and b) the brainchild of someone they’ve never heard of. The more expensive alternative is to print a certain number of better-looking prototypes and send them to people as motivation to test the game. I’ll speak more about this shortly.
  1. Nail the rules for 2 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2. Initially I wanted to keep the game two-player only, but Enrico enlightened me: two-player board games are a niche within a niche, and thus we must figure out how to make the game work with more players. We already have a couple of ideas on how that might work. The main obstacles are creating balance and removing texts that aren’t suitable for a game of more than two players.
  1. Rewrite the rules without taking things for granted. For example, the current version assumes that players know chess rules. However, there are certain moves and strategies accepted by some players and not others, which is why we need to define the specific chess rules pertaining to A Battle of Dwarves.

Aside from the above, we’ve spent the last few months working on the MONAD System (Italian) Beta, which will occupy our attention into 2016 (changes for v0.2 are already being compiled; we’ll release everything in English only when the Italian is absolutely, positively final).

We’ve also begun work on visuals for A Battle of Dwarves. I’m happy to reveal the first game artwork here, hand-drawn by Francesco Codolo. This guy is a Valesaar, a proud specimen from one of the game’s four factions.

In the upcoming months we’ll work on a graphical layout for a more professional-looking prototype. Things are moving slowly on this end due to budget and artist availability. Costs, even without considering graphic design, are as high as $100 per prototype piece – a non-trivial amount when we need, say, 10 copies to send to playtesters. And let’s not even think about having to print additional copies if there are mistakes in the first print run.  Egads.

Anyways, above is the first version of a game card, designed by Rudolf Westerholm. It doesn’t feature all the elements we need, and it’s still a bit rough, but it’s a step in the right direction.