VIII Corps at the Somme: 1st July – building a game


A while ago (A long long while ago) I ran two multi player games on the WW1 – The Somme and Third Ypres. They were divisional level multi player games involving large maps, flexible fronts lines, and a great understanding of the actual battles. I’ve thought I might update these games and look to use a card based mechanism to play them. I have started with the Somme, and by chance I also picked up the above book – a self published history of the first day of the Somme in 1916, for the VIII Corps – in front of Beaumont Hamel and Serre.

The book, Z Day, written by Alan MacDonald is full of information, and together with the VIII Corps plans and directives available to view (free) digitally from the British Library gives all you need to put a game together.

I am looking to create a game that:

1: Provides the players with the same problems faced at that time by the Commanders of each side. It will be Corps level at decision, Battalion level at outcome, 2 player game.

2 : Provides an entry level into the history of the battles for the player. Understanding the history of the war is very important element to the whole experience.

3 : Is played with as few individual elements as possible, on a small board (mock up below, based on the 1/10,000 Trench Maps), which links the strategy of the cards with the situation on the board.


4: All aspects of the game are played with, and within, a deck of cards as below. No dice, no movement distances, no figures. Quick set up and play, clear indication of whose wining and whose losing.


5 : Replicates the Battle, but allows for alternative strategies and outcomes. Historically this part of the Offensive had been ‘stopped’ within the first 2 hours, the Allies not getting to the German Front Line at any point. It’s a challenge to build this outcome into the game, whilst also allowing the chance for the Allies to actually get it right.

6 : Is quick (max 45 minutes) and easy to play, and rewarding to master.

I’m getting there – I think I have reached a good staging point in the games development!!!

Its been a great experience so far, and I have gone through quite a lot of versions to get just this far (you need to stay focused on what you want to achieve). I feel now I am at a staging point, just need some external play testing!!! Kevin?????



3 thoughts on “VIII Corps at the Somme: 1st July – building a game

  1. I have also found your blog and I did enjoy the play test you gave me of 8th Corps even if I did not win but then neither did they! Mike.


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