Bloody Sails is a management strategic board game, inspired by the 4X and Civilization genres. It’s set in a fictional 11th century Scandinavia, where Norse kingdoms compete for power, while threatening nearby settlements with raids and pillages.
Players take the roles of Viking monarchs, each one with unique objectives, heroes, blessings and development trees, and lead their people during a time span of 20 to 40 years. Starting from a small coastal village, they can build great overseas domains with the riches their plunders and trades provide. While improving their cities and clan, they explore the seas and wage war against other Norse and Christian empires. They command great armies and famed heroes, proving their worth on the battlefield and earning the favor of the gods. They have to outshine every opponent and take their place in the sagas, ultimately reaching their fate.
Players’ goal is to reach their fate, by accomplishing as quickly as possible their leaders’ objectives, or fates. To reach their fate, they have to take many decisions that will shape their empire accordingly, making each game different from the previous.
Explore – Challenge the storms of the northern oceans and discover new lands to claim or plunder. Guide your heroes across the dangers of the seas, sailing towards unknown shores. Prepare for battle, while your fleet approaches your unaware targets.
Expand – Settle new villages and turn them into rich trading centers, or subdue your opponents to your dominion, conquering new territories with your might or your wealth. Improve the skill of your craftsmen to acquire new progresses in the military and economic fields, and reap the benefits of the covenants with the gods.
Exploit – Manage your limited resources, harvested from your cities or gained from your raids. Develop your cities to increase your resource production and support your military expansion and the growth of your settlements.
Exterminate – Rout your enemies with your tactical expertise or trample them with the sheer numbers of your warriors. Defend your kingdom and wreak havoc on foreign empires. Enhance the effectiveness of your armies and attract famed heroes to lead them into battle. Master the art of war, adopting the best strategies for each battle.
If this video was too vague for your taste, have a look at the rulebook preview!
Do you wish to see some pictures of the printed game? Check out the BGG gallery!
While developing this project, my main objective was to create a strategic game that could be easily accessible for new players that wish to approach this beautiful genre, while remaining satisfying for veterans. An ambitious goal, for sure, but I tried to stick as close as possible to the “Easy to learn, hard to master” philosophy. The aim was to design simple gameplay mechanics and a gradual learning curve, while leaving expert players many possibilities to shape different and creative strategies and to interact with their opponents.
As an enthusiast of the strategy and 4X genres I followed many inspiration sources, both in the boardgame and the videogame worlds, such as the evergreen The Settlers of Catan, Through the Ages, the Civilization franchise, Stone Age and Hannibal. If you enjoy this kind of games, Bloody Sails may strike your fancy.
As regards the Viking setting, I have been passionate about Norse culture and history ever since I can remember. This game is by no means a historical simulation of the Viking Age, but many small details try to convey the mood of that fascinating time period.
The print&play format is not a novelty in the tabletop game industry. Print&play is a term that denotes board or card games released in digital copy, meaning that you can download a file, print it and play the game at your home. At the end of the campaign of Bloody Sails, you will receive a bunch of pdfs containing the rulebook, the tokens and the cards that constitute the game. Everything is arranged in A4 sheets (210x297 mm) and in Letter-size sheets (8.5 by 11 inches): you just have to feed the files to your printer, and cut out the cards once it’s done.
I’m aware of the severe limitations this kind of distribution has. No fancy box, no wooden or plastic components and no thick cardboard for the cards (although this problem can be solved by printing them in a common print shop). Moreover, cutting all the cards requires quite some work and patience (friends are there to help!).
Nonetheless, here are some reasons I still think Bloody Sails benefits greatly from this format.
Low price – This game was born from a small, personal project, with no aspiration of selling hundreds or thousands of copies. Printing few copies of a boardgame is extremely costly, and I would have had to sell the base version of Bloody Sails at around 80 €, then charge up to 20 € of shipping costs. While many beautifully crafted board games are worth much more than 100 €, I preferred the idea of making this one accessible to anyone, and not only gaming enthusiasts. Even when printing it in a professional print shop, you will get the game at a very competitive price.
Aimed design – The entire game is built around the idea of distributing it via digital delivery. Graphics are simple, to reduce the waste of ink (you can even print in grayscale!), and the number of duplicate cards is reduced as much as possible. All tokens can be constructed from paper and there is no huge and rigid board to assemble. You won’t even need glue nor scotch tape. Moreover, some gameplay mechanics require writing on cards with pencils. I’m pretty sure many board game lovers would shiver at the idea of writing on finely printed cards. Print&play is useful, when you end up damaging a component!
Modpack and future support – I have always been a huge fan of house rules, when playing with a group of friends. For this reason, granting players the ability to create their own modifications of the game was a must. With this print&play release, you will be able to print custom cards that are identical to the ones in the base game. Furthermore, digital deliveries are a great way to release additional content after the game has been shipped. Who knows, you can even send me your mods and become part of the future development of the game.
A huge, heartfelt "thank you" to my awesome collaborators, Sara Bardi (Artist), Cristiano Allievi (Artist), and Nicolò Vese (Musician), for lending their talent to the project.
... More to come!
Risks and challenges
I spent several weeks studying this platform and similar projects. However, every project creator, no matter how cautious, knows that there's always the possibility of unexpected issues lurking ahead. This is the first time I manage a Kickstarter campaign, but I have done my best to limit the risks for backers.
I have been developing Bloody Sails for more than a year, and the game is already finished. The print&play distribution also gives me the chance to avoid all the risks and delays associated with international shipping. By backing this project, you can be 100% sure you will actually receive the game with little to no unforeseen postponements. On the other hand, any unlocked stretch goal will require additional work. I’m creating this game as a “one man army”, and this means that bonus content can take some weeks to be produced.
Handling dozens of backers alone will be an arduous task, but I am confident things will run smoothly. I’ll be as swift as possible to address any hitches that may arise.
- (30 days)