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In Freedom! the insurgent Greek and Imperial Ottoman forces have different motivations and capabilities. Designer Vangelis Bagiartakis explains how and why he went about capturing this in the game.
Now, over to Vangelis to discuss Freedom!
As a designer, I tend to focus a lot on the theme in my games. I know many other designers who start from the mechanisms and then work on the game’s theme. They have produced amazing games and I am happy it works for them, but for me it has always been ‘theme first’. I enjoy very much starting from a theme and trying to recreate it as much as I can through the mechanisms.
With Freedom! being reprinted, I want to share with you how I went about doing this in that game. More specifically, I will go over the players’ units, and some of the rules that apply to them.
Freedom!, as you probably already know, is an asymmetric game. Not only are each side’s actions different, their units behave differently as well. This last part was done on purpose, to highlight the difference between the two sides. And there is a reason behind each small rule associated with the units.
First of all, each Insurgent blue cube (Greeks) is supposed to represent around 100-200 actual people. Each Imperial red/green cube (Ottomans/Egyptians) is supposed to represent around 500 soldiers. Not only are the Imperial cubes more numerous, but they are physically larger: the blue cubes are 8mm and the red/green cubes 10mm. This subtle difference helps convey the idea that one side is much larger than the other.
Gameplay-wise, the biggest difference between the two sides is the different odds they have when attacking. The Ottoman units have a very hard time because they are firing against well covered enemy units. That’s why they need an 8 (on a D8) in order to hit.
However, they do have a lot of troops, as mentioned above. To represent this, each time an Ottoman unit attacks, it rolls two dice. So, you have a lower individual chance of success, but more attempts to do so. The Greeks on the other hand are firing from above, safely barricaded by the city’s fortifications. They have an advantage and to indicate this, they can hit on a 6, 7 or 8. However, they only roll one die, which makes them the exact opposite from the Ottomans: a higher chance of success per roll, but fewer attempts to do so.
Fun fact: The wall around the city of Messolonghi included some very heavy fortified areas, the ones we call ‘forts’ in the game. To signify how hard it was to hit through the walls of the ‘forts’, an extra negative modifier is applied – you now need to roll a 9 (using a d8) to score a hit against a fort! Luckily, other things can give you modifiers that help lower this number.
There is another subtle difference in the units of the two sides. The Ottoman army consisted mainly of mercenaries – those units were fighting because they were paid. The Greeks were fighting for their lives. They were willing to go out of their way to stop the invading force. To help represent that, Ottoman units can only attack once on each turn. If, for example, you shoot and you miss, you cannot spend another Action Point to shoot again in the same turn – you have to choose a different unit, or wait for your next turn. The Insurgents however do not have that restriction.
Finally, there’s another group of units that comes with its own different rule, the Egyptian (Allied) units, brought to Messelonghi by Ibrahim Pasha, in the middle of the game. Those units were actually trained by European tacticians and were much more experienced in the use of cannons. As a result, they have a +1 bonus when firing a cannon, a significant boost. However, historically the Egyptian units didn’t get along well with the Ottoman units. In the game, this is represented by the fact that you cannot mix green and red cubes in the same space. They have to be kept separate, and there are many theme-based cards that refer only to one group or the other.
I hope you enjoyed this explanation on why the differences exist between the opposing sides in the game, and that it helps immerse you just a bit more in the game’s story next time you play! ~ Vangelis Bagiartakis
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