A Week of Gettysburg Playtesting
In the week we launched Drive on Moscow, high school interns Nick Bolger and Shay Inkpen, from the Kimberton Waldorf School, joined us at the studio and spent the week playtesting Gettsyburg: The Tide Turns.
As part of a business course at their High School, Nick and Shay were asked to participate in a weeklong internship at a start-up company. We had the opportunity to invite Nick and Shay to join us in our daily work for one week. Shay loves gaming and hopes to pursue it as a future career. Nick is interested in becoming a music producer in the future.
Over lunch, Brad and I heard more from Nick and Shay about their experience here.
Do you guys play other board games?
Shay: Yes I do, on top of video games. There was a game called Eye of The Jungle, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it but it was fun.
Nick: We used to play Jumanji all the time. That was awesome. We also played Risk and Monopoly; all the classic board games. But I think Jumanji was still my favorite, just because it was wildly unpredictable.
I’m assuming that Gettysburg as a game is more complicated than Monopoly or any of the other games that you have played?
Nick: Definitely. We started out playing it wrong for a while, so we wound up having to go back and re-read the rules. We were completely new to historical wargaming.
What did you learn from playtesting Gettsyburg?
Shay: We definitely got to learn a lot about strategy. It’s pretty cool to see how things unfold and be able to control alternative turnouts.
Nick: I have never played a game like it before – with the number of rules that you have to follow. The closest to it I’ve ever played is Risk and that pales in comparison. I thought that was kind of cool. I can understand why people enjoy getting into games like Gettysburg.
How many days did it take to complete one game of Gettysburg?
Nick: We finished the first day campaign twice, we did the scenario once and moved on to work on another scenario. We finished one game in 3 days, so it takes awhile. This was partly because we didn’t know what we were doing at the start though. Eric told us that it’s pretty standard for all wargames to have these features – we were kind of learning that and learning the game at the same time.
After playtesting Gettysburg for 3 days, do you have any strategy tips for the players?
Shay: You wouldn’t think so but in the beginning, if you are the Confederates, using a strong offensive strategy is really useful. If the Union takes a defensive approach and retreat early in the game, it’s a good sign for the Confederates too.
Nick: Similar, retreating early so you can reinforce your flanks has benefits for the Union too. If the Confederates get to you sooner rather than later, you’re kind of done; there’s no way to fight back because of the impact zones of control have on your attacking strength. You have to split your fire to hold them back. This is especially dangerous because the Confederates can swarm in all at once, the Union on the other hand has to travel over a long distance before reaching their opponents. Shay was very good at using this strategy.
If you had to sum up your whole experience at Shenandoah Studio in a word, what would it be?
Nick: Informative. I learned a lot of things about the game and how a studio operates. I’ve never really seen anything like that before.
Shay: Detailed. The amount of time we spent playing, realizing how much we were doing wrong, going back and trying to do it right, seeing everyone at the office coding – I could never do that. It’s so time-consuming but for them (the devs at Shenandoah), they look like they’re doing it so effortlessly.
Did you guys have fun?
Nick: Yes, definitely. I’m looking forward to seeing Gettysburg on the iPad because that would take a little bit of stress out of it – you can concentrate on playing the game instead of paying attention to every rule or calculating the scores.
Playing games for an entire week? Does internship really get any better than this?
It was great having you guys around, Nick and Shay!