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WaW Design Guide (draft)

Matt Lohse

Aug 18, 2013
200 feet east of the fog line
The following is a draft of items to consider when designing something for the WaW series. If there are questions this doesn't answer, let me know and I can add to it.


So you are interested in designing something for the WaW series? We are happy to hear that… without individuals like you, we would have far less material in the series. To help you in this process, we have put together this following guide to answer many potential questions and to prevent some of the problems we encountered when we were starting out as designers. When in doubt, feel free to ask the WaW series developer and/or the LoF editor or to ask questions in the relevant forums [i.e. the WaW folder on the LnL forum].

Question: When should I talk to the WaW series developer and/or the LoF editor and how concrete/developed should my proposal be?

There is no perfect answer to this question. The further developed an idea is [i.e. list of components needed, counter list, list of scenario ideas, general description of the map], the more specific advice and comments the developer/editor can provide. That said, if you only have the beginnings of an idea and want advice/need help on where to go from there then you are encourage to ask us for our help. I would recommend checking in before getting too far along with a project so any major concerns on our part can be addressed before you have spent a lot of time on something.

Question: Should I ask the WaW series developer or the LoF editor?

It is always a good idea to ask the WaW series developer, even if it is going in LOF. That said, if it is for LoF you absolutely do want to check with the LoF editor because they determine what goes in each issue and can tell you want sort of counters/maps may be available.

Question: Is my topic going to be too obscure/esoteric to be published or does it need to fit in the published timeline?

We can’t really answer this without knowing what the topic is, but we would like to encourage you to run it by us as we are open to a wide range of stuff and might be really interested in what you have come up with. Some of the formats we discuss below are well suited to topics that will interest a smaller audience.

Question: What are the general design types and the requirements/constrains on each?

Depending on what you are thinking of designing, several different factors come into play. The descriptions below should be considered rules of thumb rather than hard and fast rules. Feel free to ask if you have any questions…

One scenario to a few scenarios…

Unless you are designing these as part of a larger module, these would probably go in an issue of Line of Fire and as such you would want to email the Editor of LoF. Depending on what else is going to be in that issue, it might be possible to get a few counters if needed but more than 5 or 10 is unlikely. Likewise, in most situations it may not be possible to have a custom map included for just a couple of scenarios. As such, the scenarios will largely need to use existing products but since the scenarios will be in LoF is it okay to use counters/maps from a number of modules.

Scenario pack…

This assumes a scenario pack that needs no counters or maps, presumably something that would just be a pdf, and that would not be going in LoF. Maybe a small 8x11 map would be possible but if you need a map the 11x17 size is preferred and might well be an option if it would be used in a lot of scenarios. I would check with the WaW System Developer before getting too far along. Scenario packs that require parts from only one WaW module [presumably a game] are perfectly fine… if you have an idea for 12 scenarios using only say The Untold Stories, then that is okay with us. We would also consider scenario packs that use more than one module although the fewer the number of items needed the better. If the pack will need multiple items, please avoid cases where a module is needed for only a few counters and only for one or a small number of scenarios. When in doubt, ask the WaW series developer.

Expansion [going in LOF]

These are generally worked out well in advance with the editor of LoF but you should check in with the WaW Series Developer as well. This would have some limits on the number of counters as the current LOF countersheet format has room for about 90 WaW counters and some of these might be needed for something else. It probably would be possible to have a 11x17 map. It might be possible to have a second counter sheet or a second map, but you should check with the LoF editor early on in the development process to see if this could happen as these cases would probably be the exception rather than the rule. The expansion should only require parts from ONE WaW stand-alone module [a game, NOT an expansion], we REALLY want to avoid expansions of expansions.

Expansion [not in LOF]

This format is less than ideal, as sales of expansions are linked to continued availability of the base game they rely on. We will still consider expansion ideas, but are going to be fairly choosy about the ones we decide to publish. As such, you will want to check in with the WaW series designer early to see if might be interested in your idea as an expansion or whether we would prefer it as some other format.

Expansions fall into the realm of the WaW series designer. The size of an expansion may be a bit variable, but the current WaW countersheet has room for 130 counters [a half sheet has 65 counters]. Ideally the counters should be a half or full sheet. It might be possible to have one or two 8x11 or 11x17 maps, but you will need to check on this, if possible we would prefer 11x17 sized maps and that they match up to the other series maps on at least one edge. The expansion should only require parts from ONE WaW stand-alone module [a game, NOT an expansion], we want to avoid expansions of expansions. The expansion should also need a large number of components from that one game, if you only need a couple of counters or a single map from it then you should consider adding them to your expansion and trying to make a standalone game.

Standalone Mini Game

This is a new format that we are willing to consider submissions for. This would be a standalone game with 1 countersheet (130 counters) and 1 or maybe 2 maps that would go in a ziplock bag. The idea is to have a small, cheap game. If you have an idea that is of narrower interest or that really doesn’t fit in to any of the other categories, this might be a good route to consider. These fall into the realm of the WaW series designer. This mini game MAY NOT require ANY components from any other product… that means that you need to work information counters into the 130 you have. Although the number of counters are limited, it will need to have at least 6 scenarios if there is one map and probably something like 10-12 if you have two maps. Depending on the topic, it might be worth having a follow-on scenario pack and/or scenarios for LOF in mind using the minigame and materials from other WaW modules.

Standalone Full sized game.

These fall into the realm of the WaW series designer. The size of an expansion may be a bit variable, but the current WaW countersheet has room for 130 counters [a half sheet has 65 counters]. Ideally the number of counters should be a multiple of the numbers on half or full sheets. Depending on the topic, you might need as few as 2 or as many as 4-5 counter sheets. The WaW series has been using 11x17 geomorphic maps and your design should rely on those. The more recent WaW games have had 3 or 4 maps, so it would be good to plan on that many maps unless there is a good reason for more. The standalone game MAY NOT require ANY components from any other product. The standalone game ideally has at least 12 scenarios.

Question: Do I need to have follow-on ideas for a proposal… such as a scenario pack to build on an expansion or an expansion to build on a game?

Not at all. That said, if you have an idea for some sort of follow on to something you are proposing it doesn’t hurt to let us know.

Question: What if I have an idea that may not fit in with the WaW timeline?

I would suggest checking with the WaW Series Developer… there is a good chance we may still be interested in your idea. The timeline is a guide but we don’t want to let it stand in the way of something really interesting.

Question: How should I determine counter values for units I want?

In a lot of cases, you can take values from identical or equivalent units in existing WaW modules. A T-55 will have the same values as another T-55 unless there is something really unique about it [such as the Polish T-55 upgrades]. If that vague guideline doesn’t help, consult with us to help develop them. I would strongly suggest checking with us before making any playtest counters as we might ask you to change some of the values. If you think we might disagree with values you have assigned, it doesn’t hurt to provide us an explanation for why unit type X differs from what we might otherwise expect.

Question: My design will need a map or new counter art, what do I do about this for a playtest?

If you can put together playtest materials [crude counters, basic map], that is wonderful. If you can’t, we MIGHT be able to help depending on what is needed and how busy we are [or someone that owes us a favor is]. Don’t let an inability to create maps/counters stop you from suggesting an idea to us, if the idea is good enough we will find a way to get playtest materials made.

Question: I think I need a new rule, rules, or some unique SSRs… is that okay?

Probably. That said, you will need to run them by us [and presumably sooner rather than later] so we can make sure the rule doesn’t break the system and that it reads in such a way that most gamers will understand it. Besides, we might have suggestions about ways to make it work better/easier. When creating rules, simpler is better.

Question: I want to try something really unusual/unique with the game system. Is that okay?

Possibly. After all, the original rules didn’t have anything for air units. It is probably good to check with us before getting too far along and we might suggest trying it in a small scale in say LoF as a proof of concept and to get feedback before going all in with say an expansion or a game doing whatever you want to try.

Question: I don’t have people to playtest for me. Is that a problem?

Well your first playtester is yourself…. You should play a scenario several times before giving it to someone else to make sure it seems balanced and plays like you want. If you don’t have people to test it for you, we probably can find someone to do it. If you do have some people that can test for you, keep track of who they were and how much they did so we can try to do something to reward them for their efforts.

Question: How much are we going to meddle with your design? Alternatively, how much will we help you to complete your design?

It really depends on a number of factors. We want to keep any module as close to the designer’s vision as possible but at the same time we want something that doesn’t break the system, that people can play, and that provides good value for the player’s money. On the other end of the spectrum, we can help with a lot but we can’t do everything for you [we have other projects competing for our time and probably full time jobs as well]. You will have to do a lot of work during the process, if just from answer a lot of emails from us when we inevitably have questions.

Question: Did you really type more than 2000 words on this subject?

No, it was really more in the 2200 word range.