An Interview with Leonidas Vesperini on the Upcoming Game Joan of Arc
Geeks a Gogo spoke with Leonidas Vesperini of Mythic Games at Gen Con 50 last month. He is the developer of Time of Legends: Joan of Arc--a game set in the time of the Hundred Years' War, which uses a flexible rule set that blends miniature-based battlefield combat, storytelling, management, and other mechanics into a very playable tabletop experience. As well, this game also allows players to play historical scenarios rooted in the history of the Hundred Years' War, as well as scenarios rooted in fantasy that involve the mythology of the era (including werewolves, demons, angels, and dragons).
We had a blast play-testing the "werewolf" scenario that comes with the base game, and then with Leonidas about his creation:
GaGG: So, what’s the typical run time for a game. I know that when we tried the “werewolf” scenario, it was a bit under an hour, but are there certain scenarios that would take a little bit longer?
Leonidas: Most of the scenarios don’t last very long. Some a little more than others, but usually, it’s within the hour—including the battle scenarios. But then you have something different called the “battle mode”, where you create your army—the French army, the English army, or the devil’s army—and you simply battle your opponent. With this, you have more minis involved, you can have as many as you want, you can have hundreds of them. So, this could last a little longer, but usually 2 hours max.
GaGG: In the base game you have—how many scenarios? You have the “werewolf” scenario and the “battle” scenario, are there any others?
Leonidas: We’ll have, all together, about 30 scenarios. Probably about 10 or 12 in the core game, and then some others in expansions. What we want is that every time you unlock a mini—you are able to use it, whether it is in a scenario or in battle mode, or both most of the time. In expansions, we will almost always provide one or more scenarios.
GaGG: So, we know that the Kickstarter is going to be launching on Oct. 10th. What kind of expansions will you have when it gets funded?
Leonidas: Well, you’ll have 2 kinds of expansions, some that will be unlocked through stretch goals. Like, you unlock a few minis and we’ll tell you that you can unlock the base expansion. But there can be thematic expansions, and we don’t want to tell you everything—we want to keep some surprises. Then you’ll also have some expansions sold as add-ons or optional buys.
For instance, the dragon that you’ve seen here will be an optional buy. If you buy the dragon, you will receive it fully-assembled, but with the wings that you just need to clip on. And you’ll have some other minis, you’ll have an angel, like St. Michael, who can fight dragons--and you’ll have a scenario. This is one of the expansions you can have.
You’ll have some other big expansions, like the “siege” expansion. The “siege” expansion will have a castle, it will have all the rules to attack a castle. It’ll have many new miniatures—new heroes, new units, all in this expansion. And we have plans for other expansions. Let’s say that we have 3 big, major expansions that will be sold as add-ons, and we have many small expansions that will be either unlocked in stretch-goals or sold as mini-expansions.
GaGG: So, the game brings together a lot of mechanics, there’s roleplaying, there’s resource management, there’s strategy—and maybe a few I’m missing, but how do they come together?
Leonidas: The real challenge on this game was to have a game system that would allow for investigation, roleplaying, management, skirmishes with a few miniatures, and also allow people to play mass battles in the same system. Usually you can’t do that, and I think we did. Once you’ve played the “werewolf” scenario, you know how to play the game. If you play the other scenarios, it will work exactly the same—the same way of activating an area with all the minis in it, same way to use myth cards or tactic cards. Myth cards are for magic, the tactic cards are more for battlefield strategies, it still plays exactly the same and it’s fast. So, this was the big challenge.
With this game, as you’ve said, you can have this role-playing aspect, or a hook in which you are a hero and you talk to people and ask them different questions and depending on how you talk to them something will happen, and if you talked to them another way something different would happen. That makes it very narrative. You also have the battle aspect also, where you can activate a lot of minis at the same time because of the system we designed as an area-based system. Whether you have 1 or 2 minis or 8 minis, you can still activate them with one action. This is the key. Usually with an activation system you activate a unit, you don’t activate an area with all the units in it. That’s the difference.
So, that was the challenge, and I think we made it. The games are fast and the system is easy to understand.
GaGG: I actually really like that you are able to move multiple units at a time and have them take different actions.
Leonidas: Yes, you activate 4 of them, but they can do many different things. If you want your priest to pray, he will pray. If you want one of your guys to move to another area, he will, and if you want 2 guys to attack another area, they can.
GaGG: So, tell us about that dragon.
Leonidas: Well, the dragon is the most impressive mini we have—it’s a big one. You can’t really call this a mini. Actually, it’s not the only huge mini we have. We’ll have several of them.
But the way the dragon works—you’ll have a scenario where you’ll have to fight him or stall so that he doesn’t destroy a city or something. He can fly, so when he flies you put him in a different hex, either in high altitude or in low altitude. If he’s in low altitude, that means the next turn he can land anywhere on the board. He takes one full hex, not just one area, one full hex. When he is in low altitude, you can attack him with cannons, you can attach him from the ground, so that’s a bad point for him. The good point for him is that he can land anywhere he wants. And he can fly in high altitude. If he’s there you can’t attack him like in low alt, but he can still spit fire at you. But you can send him angels, and then you’re going to have a dog fight in the air against the angels. It’s going to be cool. He’s very, very powerful. He can destroy buildings, he can destroy walls, he can kill several minis at one time. He’s going to be powerful.