“Somewhere between chess and Warhammer” – Why I Designed Farsight

In a guest blog, Farsight designer Jamie Jolly shares his experiences of strategic wargaming, and reveals why he spent eight years designing something new.

I’m not sure if this is true of more well-rounded individuals, but I’ve always wanted to feel like a General.

Sure, I might not be quite cut out for an actual real-life conflict, but the idea of preparing a battle-plan and deploying my forces, deceiving the enemy with cunning maneuvers and feints, leveraging the advantage and closing the trap, appeals to me. And if you’re reading this, it might just appeal to you to.

I’ve designed this game, Farsight, over the last 8 years. It’s a project borne from this unfulfilled dream of being a general on a battlefield: something simple and easy to grasp that allows you to use your strategic creativity, but doesn’t require years spent working up the ranks in the military.

I’ve been a war-gamer all my life and played just about every strategy game worth playing, but was almost always left with a sense that there is something more on the horizon. Abstract strategies like Go or Chess are incredible arenas for manoeuvring, and zone control, but are detached from any sense of reality. There’s no new or visceral experiences, no characters, no terrain, no unexpected influences like weather or illnesses, and all the information you need to win is right in front of you (not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a certain allure to spending time gaining important intel.)

Then of course, there are wargames: highly thematic, cool miniatures, and enough stuff to bankrupt even the deepest wallets. But, understandably enough, these big name game systems tend to be built around selling new miniature lines, hefty books and a design philosophy that says ‘the more complex it is the more strategy (and by extension, value for money) you will get out.’

In practice however I’ve found that what is being dressed as strategy often has the whiff of veiled resource management: each unit in a game like Warhammer is a complex set of numbers that, if invested into the right fight, will give good returns in value – much like choosing the right pension or building society.

In this designer’s opinion, choosing to shoot the tank-unit with the anti-tank-rocket-unit does not really constitute a rewarding strategy.

But above all, the complexity and time commitment can be a real stumbling block for those who just want to open a box, have fun, and use their intuition to win a fight rather than a pre-game hour of statistical analysis.

Somewhere between these two worlds I felt there was a game begging to be made – a ‘battle in a box’ – something that was easy to learn but represented the many faces of battle: the spies gathering intel to turn the tide, the rain beating down on armour, the decisive ambush and unstoppable advance. So I made Farsight.

If this has come off like a frenzied hatchet job of all existing war-games, then let me offer a brief step back: I’ve played a lot of war games of the years, and many of them offer great takes on the subject with different focal points and great game-play – but I wanted something different.

It’s a mammoth task to attempt to offer even a nearly-comprehensive war game that is still simple enough for players to learn, and Farsight is by no means perfect. But I hope that it is a step in the right direction, and more importantly, an enjoyable addition to this genre’s storied history.

To find out more about Farsight, click here. 

To get updated about Farsight’s release, click here.

One thought on ““Somewhere between chess and Warhammer” – Why I Designed Farsight

  1. I’m both intrigued and excited about this game. Not only did I play Warhammer and 40K I also used to work in one of there stores, and so armed with a staff discount I didn’t suffer the setbacks of affording whatever I wanted for my armies. 32 strong unit of Black Orcs Boyz, no problem! And I played these games a lot.

    And I mean a lot.

    I knew my armies inside and out, and most of my opponent’s armies too (it was after all my job to be a font of rule knowledge) But you are right, there was really little “real” strategy, cover, line of sight are all very ‘soft’ modifiers, weather, high ground, morale etc as you’ve hinted about above are far more interesting, and will introduce a greater degree of change and chance without rolling countless dice.

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