Veteran game designer creates ‘War Room,’ the ultimate WWII tabletop game

Axis & Allies is a classic tabletop strategy wargame that’s sold millions of copies. For many, it was their first introduction to wargaming. Now the creator of Axis & Allies (as well as 200 other games) is about to unveil his most ambitious project yet.

War Room is a sprawling tabletop board game for 2-6 players that’s been more than four years in the making. It takes place on a massive circular map with players teaming up to compete against each other in a variety of different scenarios. It incorporates secret movement, supply routes, unit morale, and many other factors to determine the outcome.

The 69-year-old Larry Harris, an avid WWII buff, teamed up with game designer Thomas Gale of Zoo Tycoon fame to form Nightingale Games. Their Kickstarter campaign has already doubled their initial funding goal, with several days left to go. They also have plans for a computer version of the game, just like Axis & Allies.

War Room
Nightingale Games
Nightingale Games

In an interview with Venture Beat, Harris explained that he wanted to make the complex nature of strategy and tactical wargames available to a wide audience. “I found that the games that were available to me as a young man were much too complicated and not very pleasing,” he said. “It’s not complicated. It’s a culmination of a lot of simple game mechanics, combined together.”

The game includes more than a thousand pieces, many representing the command structure from the soldiers on the battlefield to the generals in the war room. Factors such as morale, stress, and production can influence the conflict in many ways. “In all wars you have this interesting chess game going on. World War II, one of the chess pieces, if you will, was production,” Harris said. “Here we deal with oil, iron, and other strategic resources. It takes combinations of these resources to produce things like tanks or infantry or aircraft or ships.”

Tabletop games are currently in the middle of a comeback, with many classic wargames entering the digital age and new board games based on video games adding to the mix. Harris admits that the immersive visuals of today’s games are tough to compete against. “It’s so exquisite,” he said, referring to games like Call of Duty: WWII. “I play a lot of World of Tanks. I’m just so impressed with — when you shoot it looks like you’re really shooting. Someone’s taken the time to figure out the velocity of my particular weapon. It’s just wonderful.”

For WWII fans and historians, as well as those who grew up playing the strategy war games of the 70’s, being in command of a country’s entire war machine is a dream come true. War Room is planned for release in 2018.

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