Case Study One: War for the Motherland from Six Angles #9, versus the MMP remake, Red Star Rising.

I became interested in this game after noticing discussion of RSR as it was being worked on. I had no prior knowledge of details except having heard of FGA/Rampart's War for the Motherland issue (as they were taking a well deserved dirt nap). I am a big fan of strength chit games (duh, look at my current design project) and have been very receptive to Masahiro's work. So my interest in Red Star Rising came quite easily and I followed the progress with an intent eye.

Pictures were displayed of the new map. My first reaction was, "Excessively dark and artsy." But it had a quality and I would continue to watch. Then came the counters...

Simplicity, yes. Vibrant colors, yes. Matching the muted pastel and contrast of the map, NO. I saw many pictures of the game in progress and I was disappointed.

I held my money. The things I heard about the system and the gameplay made me want it. The components kept me away.

My interest grew until I decided to acquire a copy of the Japanese version, War for the Motherland. Unsure about the translations available, I still desired the english rules set in RSR. A second hand copy for a reasonable price became available and I bought it. Now I could see for myself whether the pictures were giving a distorted view or not.

I pulled out the counters. Hmmm, not as bad as they sit in their sheets. Pull out the map... what fuzzy terrain, what busy charts, what clash with the counters...

Luckily, the War for the Motherland arrived the same day. I laid it out to compare...

I checked Todd's translation against the RSR stuff and errata. I saw some counter changes through Mike's RSR gamebox... which compared to the original counters could have been errors that were left in (and possibly playtested that way). I stare at the classic WftM map and counters and think they are quite plain, but the alternate... has swung too far the other way. I will be playing with the Japanese copy from now on...

P.S. - Anyone want an unpunched copy of Red Star Rising? :-)

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Comment by Smitty on April 30, 2009 at 2:26pm
Fascinating discussion guys - thanks!
Comment by Mark Mahaffey on April 30, 2009 at 9:14am
Indeed, thanks Marc!
Comment by Mark Mahaffey on June 4, 2008 at 9:52pm
Thanks, Gary, but I certainly wouldn't say mine was better (though of course I personally like mine a bit more seeing as I made it largely how I wanted it). But thanks nonetheless, that means a lot, and I'm glad you like the final result. It is true that the terrain is relatively calm, plus the challenge of having to redo Mas' artwork that was already good, too. :)
Comment by Gary Krockover on June 4, 2008 at 6:11pm
Being the original artist for the map (and Mark did a much better job than I had done), I can say that the geography wasn't the most exciting. It's a large map with a swamp in the middle, a sprinkling of forest/woods and a mountain range. The rest is wide open nothingness surrounded by water. I found it hard to get motivated to come up with something that would be refreshing and original, so hats off to Mark for accomplishing that.
Comment by Skip Franklin on June 2, 2008 at 7:32pm
When a version of Third Reich came out I was able to quantify what I don't like and that is Art on Art. Art for counters with a plain map or plain counters on an artsy map is okay for me.
Comment by Greg Blanchett on May 31, 2008 at 12:42pm
OMG Mark, that one is nice! With a more "woodsy" texture for the forest, but keeping those colors, I think the counters would have made a nice contrast and stood out more and then... well let's just say, we probably would not be having this discussion. ;-)
Comment by Mark Mahaffey on May 31, 2008 at 12:31pm
As a historical curiousity, here was my original draft back in Summer 2006: Star Rising.jpg
Comment by Ted Torgerson on May 31, 2008 at 12:07pm
I love this map. Functional and beautiful. The counters are modern looking not at all garish.
Comment by Greg Blanchett on May 31, 2008 at 11:59am
Mark, as far as I could see the only thing different with the actual map is the hex numbering. Granted there are some geographical errors that I really noticed from my map research, but they seem to be typical from Japanese made maps. As for the rules, a cursory look with the errata, didn't reveal any major differences there either. I will know more when I finish reading through them, but that was exactly my plan as well...
Comment by Mark Humphries on May 31, 2008 at 10:36am
Are the maps fuly compatible? I have RSR but I much prefer the graphic style of WFTM and am considering acquiring it to use with the MMP ruleset.

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