Gears Tactics Began Life as Board Game Prototype

Gears Tactics Began Life as Board Game Prototype

Gears Tactics may be a fine-looking turn-based tactics game, but it began life as a tabletop board according to a recent article from Polygon.

In a recent Polygon article, Splash Damage, the team behind Gears Tactics, gave some cool insight into how the turn-based strategy game came to be. In working with Tyler Bielman from The Coalition, the team was able to put together a rough board game design and work from there. Of course, this isn’t an incredibly novel move. Prototyping design can be sped up a lot when a studio is working with pen and paper. However, given how easily turn-based tactics translate from digital to analog, this is a cool case to get a behind-the-scenes look.

As mentioned above, the pen-and-paper approach allows designers to iterate on an idea very quickly. It’s as simple as writing out some extra rules or changing a value on your sheet of paper. Since Splash Damage was hoping to “push the genre forward” with Gears Tactics, it makes sense that they would adopt this more flexible approach to early design. While the design was based around  Gears, they needed to make sure it would work in a less dynamic setting.

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The original prototype used card-driven boss AI like you might see in games like Gloomhaven. After thorough testing, Splash Damage decided to move to a grid-less combat arena, which gives players more freedom to move throughout the environment. That freedom should translate to a more dynamic feeling game that you’d see in your typical XCOM-likes.

Gears Tactics releases on April 28 for PC and Xbox One. Game Pass users will get the game with their subscription, meaning you have basically no excuse not to try it out. If early reports hold true, Gears Tactics might be a heck of a good time. And, if you prefer tabletop games, Steamforged Games is hard at work on a card game adaptation set to release later this year.