Reinvigorating a Classic

I’m too busy to write this week so as a special treat we’ll be having two guest posts and here is the first. Coming in from Academy games is Uwe Eickert, here to tell us about Fief (which is more than fully funded on Kickstarter) and the reasons he decided to bring out an enhanced English language edition of the game, along with the changes that will make it even better for fans of the original. Take it away Uwe.

I remember when I first saw Philippe Mouchebeuf's game "Fief." It was published over 20 years ago and was refined and refined some more and then a beautiful new version was produced by Asynchron.  I liked how it defied easy categorization. It had too much combat (and die rolling!) to be called a "Euro," but it had more diplomacy and land development than a typical "Wargame." In fact, it was possible to win the game and never fight a battle, although it was unlikely to happen if you did not have a reasonably strong army. Very interesting!

I started talking to Asynchron at Essen about bringing out an English language version and, as time passed, and Fief went out of print, it became even more of a cooperative effort, for Asynchron wanted an improved French version. I wanted to upgrade the graphics and add a few more of the "game" elements I have learned players like and expect... few things in life are "certain" and few strong moves in a game should have no response available. Now we have some. And, the success of our Kick Starter program has allowed us to add a number of additional units that increase the choices involved in the basic game, and involve an even greater variety of options with expansions like the Teutonic Knights and Templars. 

The original Fief was intentionally nebulous about a time setting. I added "1429" because this was a time near the end of the Hundred Years War when France was really moving toward becoming a country and less just the name of a region filled by divided, independent areas.  And yes, the date did raise an issue with the Templars, who had been wiped out well before this time. But their troubles really came because they had grown so powerful and so many important people owed them money. It did not have to happen then, and we have kept them in our "1429" game because of the drama they can bring.

The other new "fighting" elements are balanced by new elements involving diplomacy and interaction. I'm particularly proud of the "Noble Attribute" cards. Where it used to be, each noble was no different than any other noble (in terms of anything other than the art on the card and his/her gender) now each noble will have some trait or quirk that sets him or her apart from the others. They might be a good fighter, a good organizer (making more productive mills), or just a "good dancer," with no particular advantages in the game. Or they might even have a detriment!  We will produce more Noble Attribute cards than there are nobles in the game, so there is no guarantee whether any particular one will surface or not...more replay value.

Thanks to overwhelming Kick Starter support, we will produce Fief with our large, mounted mapboards and good player aids, new art in some areas and better counters. This will be a beautiful game, with loads of free additions, many of which are likely to run out soon after the kick starter ends. While they last, we will sell a "expansions bundle," but there is so much stuff in it, we likely will need to price it close to the starting price of the game. That's how great this Kick Starter is! (But it ends on February 11, so don't miss your chance.)

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to give some background to Academy Games' re-print and upgrade of this wonderful game.

Uwe Eickert