Alessio Cavatore’s own game, published last year, is called Shuuro. The tag line for the game is ‘Creative Chess’, because it uses a simple points system to allow you to pick your army of chess pieces. I asked Alessio why he refers to it as a wargame rather than a board game.

It’s an abstract wargame. Chess is a wargame, and so is Go. Go is the ultimate abstract wargame. Chess is a tiny step more realistic – the pieces at least have shape and evoke a battlefield. So if Go is the ultimate ‘zen’ abstract wargame, and Chess is one step further in, Shuuro is another step beyond that. The sides and the set up don’t have to be identical, and there is abstract terrain to deal with.

And you have a new expansion for Shuuro just coming out, called Turanga?

Turanga is our first expansion which turns Shuuro into a four-player game. It uses a system like the card game Bridge, where you play with a partner sitting opposite you around the table, but you can’t discuss your tactics during the game.

How do the different versions of Shuuro feel when compared to a normal Chess game?

The main Shuuro set includes Mini Shuuro, which you use for quick games and tournaments. It feels a bit like a strange Chess puzzle. You have the unusual combinations of playing pieces, but it’s small enough that you can analyse and ponder your moves, just as in a normal Chess game. The full game of Shuuro feels much more like a wargame – there’s far too much going on to even attempt keeping all the possibilities in your head (at least it’s too much for my head!). Rather you do things like making an attack down one flank, exchanging a few pieces, and then perhaps the opponent counter-attacks, or you redeploy. Turanga then makes the game a four-player experience, which is a bit more like a board game. In fact if you have both sets, Shuuro and Turanga, then there are five different versions of the game you can play.

Do you have further expansions in the pipeline?

The next expansion is called Yuddah, and it introduces a combat system that can be layered on top of any of the other ways to play. Each piece has a number of D12 dice, from one for a pawn up to four for a queen. When you try to take an opponent’s piece, it doesn’t work automatically – both sides roll the number of dice their piece allows, plus one if they ‘charged’ (attacked), and one each for every other piece threatening that square. So your pieces can provide support both in attack and defence.

The following expansion will be called Loka and it will introduce extra terrain for the board. At the moment we are planning forests, lakes, swamps and elemental gates. These last ones develop the elemental theme that is first hinted at in Turanga, where each of the players has the colours and symbols of one of the classic four elements.

Finally, do you have any advice for budding games designers?

Play lots of different games of course. Write stuff – lots of people think they could be a games designer, but you don’t really know until you try to put something on paper! If you want to do it professionally, first get a job at a games company – any job – don’t wait to be hired as a games designer without any experience, that’s very rare. You have a much better chance if you’re on the inside.                                                                          

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