Keep Calm and Grog On!


Home About Us Article Index Forums Dice GrogShop GH ON FACEBOOK GrogNews
Let Your Grog Flag Fly!

Recent Articles

GARPA 17, 4/26/13

SimCity AAR Part 1, 4/25/13

Announcing MayViation, 4/24/13

Second Look at Wargame AirLand Battle, 4/21/13

First Look at Wargame AirLand Battle 4/19/13

AAR of Dark Age Minis Battle, 4/18/13

Video Review of Zulus on the Ramparts, 4/14/13

GARPA 16, 4/12/13

Crusader Kings II AAR Part 16, 4/11/13

Book Review: Ninja: 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior, 4/10/13

Review of Bioshock INfinite, 4/7/13

Review of XFX PRO650W Core Edition PSU, 4/5/13

Civilization V AAR, Part 13, 4/4/13

Fire with Fire, 3/31/13

GARPA 15, 3/29/13

Civilization V AAR, Part 12, 3/28/13

Wheaton INterview, 3/27/13

March Mayhem Winner, 3/25/13

Warlock Multiplayer AAR, 3/21/13

WWII PTO Alternate Histories, 3/20/13

GARPA 14, 3/15/13

Crusader Kings II AAR, part 15, 3/14/13

Civilization V AAR, part 11, 3/7/13

Prezcon Convention Coverage, 3/2/13

Civilization V AAR, part 10, 3/3/13

Click here for our

FULL Article Index


Screenshot features

Interview with Designer Jeff Horger

Brant Guillory, 21 October 2012

Designer Jeff Horger hit a solid winner with his first game, Manoeuvre. He's followed up with the Distant Lands expansion, and the new fantasy wargame, Fury.

Tell us a little bit about your wargaming background?  When did you get started and what made you stick with it?

I've been wargaming since 1976. I was 9 at the time and my parents bought me Panzerblitz. I understood enough to play some type of wargame although I am sure it wasn't the game as the rules indicate. I have always loved the alternate/history changing value of wargames. I rarely read anything on the topic until after i played. I always wanted to try my own strategy instead of replaying the historical battles. The more open-ended a game is the more I like it. Axis & Allies was a favorite of mine for many years because you could do so much in the game.


What wargame made you want to be a designer?

The first one I ever played probably. I have designed games since I knew how to play them. If there was one game it might have been Next War. I liked the sprawling map and the strategic options so much but the game didn't click with me. Some games just don't hit my sweet spot and that doesn't make them bad, it just makes them not for me. But I REALLY wanted to like that one. So we played around a lot with the rules to make it more enjoyable for me. That was also when I learned about how hard it was to make even small changes in a game without doing a lot of unexpected work.


What was the first wargame you designed your own scenario for?

The Universal Combat Simulator (or something close to that) by SSI. I loved building scenarios for tactical computer games.


What was the first wargame you designed?  Did it ever see the light of day?

Manoeuvre and yes, yes it did.


Tell us a bit about how Manouevre came about?  How did you arrive on the particular mix of forces that were eventually included in the box?

Manoeuvre sprung from a system a friend of mine Joe Roush had come up with. He had used it for a modern conflict game but it seemed lacking in some way. On a car ride to my mother-in-laws I designed about 80% of the game on note cards. I wanted to use polyhedral dice and have inter-changeable armies. When i first designed it I didn't even know what era I wanted to place it in. After playing some generic games it was narrowed down to ancients or Napoleonics. I chose to go with Napoleonic. I looked at my favorite Napoleonic era games (Empires in Arms and War & Peace) and decided that those armies would be in the game. So I built France, Britain, Spain, Russia, Prussia, Austria and Ottoman Empire forces. To round out the eight we added the US army from the War of 1812. At the time I also wanted some exotic armies to be a foil for the Europeans such as the Chinese or the Indians but I had very little luck finding any info on these armies at the time so i dropped them off the list. As for each nation's mix of forces, they were either famous units with stories that i read in my research or else they were units I could find flags for to use on the pieces.


What was cut from Manouevre during development?

Very little. The original game design was so simple that more was actually added than cut. I cannot stress how incredibly finished the original thoughts about the game were from the beginning. In development all we really needed to do was tweak the text on the cards and make some rules to counter certain "unbalanced" strategies in the game that didn't seem in the spirit of play.


How did you shift from Manouevre to Fury, and move into fantasy combat?  What were some of the inspirations for the fantasy world and forces in Fury?

I wanted to go bigger and different in Fury. With a fantasy realm there are no limits. Each turn has more attacks, more movement, more action. I added spells and all of the fantasy influences that I could jam into the box. Even the name arose from the game play. Compared to Manoeuvre, Fury is, well, furious. I have always been a fan of the fantasy genre. Lord of the Rings, Magic, Conan, and Dungeons & Dragons all have a place in the building blocks of my imagination. I began playing D&D when I was 11, on my own with no older sibling to show the way. Soon thereafter I read the Hobbit and I was hooked forever. So my inspiration for the game sits solidly in high fantasy. 


What are some of the other designs you've kicked around?  I know you've been working on some non-combat games as well.  

Oh my, I have been unemployed for over a year and in that time I have begun numerous games, mostly with the aid of my co-designer and wife Carla. Thunder Alley, Title Chase Basketball and Football, a light train game called 20th Century Limited, an abstract dice game called Backlash as well as a dice mountain climbing game that may be named Yeti Mountain. On top of that I have 10-Second Cars (Fast & Furious style), Europe Divided 1559 to 1598 and The Storm Breaks (a Manoeuvre-inspired game of WWII). I would like to be a designer that can cover a wide range of topics, styles and skill levels. Although none have been published, there is going to come a day very soon that the flood-gates are going to open for us.


How did your relationship with GMT Games develop?

Luck, I worked for them at Origins for a couple of years not as a designer but because I loved their games. I remember demoing Brandywine when it first came out. It was complete blind luck that they opened and played Manoeuvre when I sent it to them. I am however very proud of my affiliation with them and quite happy to be a part of the GMT family.


What is one historical outcome you'd change to make a compelling alt-history game/scenario?

Almost all of them. I am not a huge fan of replaying history. I leave those games to the experts. I am all about playing games where I can leave my own personal stamp on a game. I look at designing that way too. I don't strive to create historical outcomes. I prefer to give people historical resources and let them decide the course of a game.


What kind of wargame do you never see yourself playing?

OCS and massive games where the history is so embedded in the game that you have to follow the prescribed patterns to not only win but to play. I spent some time at the War Room at the Buckeye Game Fest in September. We played games like 1812 (Academy) and other open-ended games. All around us were D-Day games and the blitzkrieg of France. Those games seem so detailed and so minutia driven that it would drive me nuts. I tried to play Burma about 10 years ago and about gouged my eyes out. So anything where i have to be both general and quartermaster are the worst experiences for me.


What's one wargame rule you've given up on as hopelessly broken?

I never looked at it that way. I guess broken rules are ones that don't translate into the game they are placed in. Some rules that seem perfect for one game can stick out badly in others. Any rule, if done right can be awesome and any rule, if done poorly, can be a disaster.


Have you ever visited a battlefield for a wargame you've played?

Gettysburg, that's the list. I have never had a lot of money to travel so when we do it is usually to places that are going to offer the biggest entertainment bang for the buck. Battlefields are awesome but when you can only go on a vacation once every 3-5 years they don't compare with Disney or Panama City or Niagra Falls. 


Discuss this interview in our forums >>

Please support the folks that support GrogHeads
Forums | Articles | About Us | Terms & Conditions | GrogNews
Copyright ©2012-2019, Grogheads, LLC. All rights reserved in the United States and throughout the world. All other products and copyrights mentioned on Grogheads, LLC are the property of their respective companies, and Grogheads, LLC makes no claim thereto.

GrogDice - Refresh the screen to roll a new set!

Or go here to roll a LOT of dice