General Orders: World War II, the worker-placement wargame from the designers of Undaunted, is out now. Read on to hear more from the game's co-designer David Thompson, about the game's second, asymmetric board and the last touches of the design process...
The Alpine side of the board (the board design we had given to Osprey) is symmetric in its topography. While it has a variable setup due to the way the area bonuses are randomized and placed at setup, the layout is the same for both players. This meant that Trevor and I didn’t have to “balance” the board layout for the Alpine map.
Osprey wanted to add a second map to the game, and they wanted the layout for that map to be asymmetric. In addition, we all decided on adding a very different element to the second board: aircraft. Trevor and I knew the addition of a new map with an asymmetric layout would require extensive design and testing. And so that’s what we set out to do.
From February to September, Trevor and I worked on what would eventually become the Island map – that’s eight times longer than it took us to design the core game! By September, we had begun an extensive playtest effort. We were very comfortable with the Alpine map, so we asked playtesters to first familiarize themselves with the game using that map. But once they knew the rules, we asked them to move on to the Island map and collect as much data as possible. For the next month or so the playtest data came in, and Trevor and I carefully analyzed every report. We were fortunate that the feedback was almost universally positive. The balance that we were striving for and had worked so hard to deliver was evidenced in the playtest results.
In October we delivered the final design to Osprey.
One of the initial responses Osprey had for the game is they wanted it to be a compact product. This is what Filip Hartelius had to say about the idea:
“...the direction we want to take is to make it more compact…I’d love to put it into a small box so it’s a punchy little portable game. In that format, it’d have a board (roughly A4 size), wooden discs for commanders and wooden cubes for (units), punchboard for the variable tiles, dice, and ops cards. I’ve attached a photo of my very rough conceptualisation.”
This was the image Filip included to help convey his idea:
You can see as early as Filip’s initial email about the game that Osprey was also leaning towards transforming our point-to-point map into a hex-grid concept.
Obviously Osprey kept true to Filip’s idea for a compact game, as General Orders comes in a refreshingly compact box that has been met with universal praise by the boardgaming community.
Next up was the art. Osprey contracted Alex Green, who had not previously worked in the boardgame space, to serve as the artist. Although all art is subjective, we fell in love with the idea of bringing Alex’s fresh art style to our hobby. In my opinion everything from the box cover to the Operations cards and especially the boards are both evocative of the subject and also refreshing in their style and color palette. Osprey is well-known for their incredibly high quality art (one of the many reasons we love partnering with them), and General Orders, with Alex’s brilliant work, certainly follows that model.
General Orders was previewed at both GenCon and Essen in 2023. Osprey Games were able to bring some stock early ahead of publication to the GenCon, selling out their daily allotment in the first ten minutes each day. Demos ran throughout the convention and the tables were packed the entire time. We were super excited to see how well the game was received.
EDITOR'S NOTE: General Orders: World War II was also a huge hit at SPIEL 2023 in Essen, Germany. The team ran demos to packed tables all four days of the show and sold hundreds of early copies ahead of release. Co-designer Trevor Benjamin even stopped by to check out the stand and talk about the game.
When General Orders released in October, it marked the end of an almost two-year process to make the game a reality. From the very first email where I pitched the idea to Trevor for a “worker placement wargame” to the published version that includes Alex’s incredible art, the creative process for General Orders has been an absolute delight.