The story of Balkan Fury
After a false start with Blitzkrieg, we as a company really needed a quick, quality product which was both playable, reasonably priced, and had shelf edge impact. After looking at the vast amount of work both done and not done we elected to do the Balkans in 1940 and 41 as the next title.
This had advantages – small area, fewer units, lots of excitement, different operations and the usual Balkan mess to push it forwards, as well as the simple thought that most of the research was either done or could be done rapidly. Thus was Balkan Fury born….
6 weeks later we had a game out, with great counters, fabulous mapping, and a really good (but to be fair, not perfect) OB set. The key thing in terms of presentation was a move towards something with a more obvious style, and a little bit of tension in the imagery.
After a few false starts it hit upon me to juxtapose one nation’s flag (in this case the Greek flag) and an image that indicates something very different. It took a lot of digging, until I found the German “victory” ceremony in front of the Parthenon. It seemed apt as it showed the proud flag of Greece, a small nation that had fought the Italian aggressors to a standstill in a series of bloody battles followed up by a major counter offensive into Albania which almost drove the Italians into the sea, all with fairly minimal help from their sole ally – the UK.
The art imagery for the first time was not heavily processed – merely a cleaned up picture with no DRM issues and a SVG type file of the flag overlaid, and made a bit transparent. The hard bit was getting it to fit the box art (the banner to the left for DE Ltd being a fixed size) and the crop of the flag is actually done to get this right.
The picture was also messed about with a little to get it to fit, which took fortunately very little time (the areas cut from the original basically do not add to the story being told). Furthermore, given I have a bit of a dark sense of humour at times the juxtaposition is a key element of many of our game titles and art work.
Thanks to David Tebbutt we got a great name (Balkan Fury) based on his thought that the whole area has a long history of furious fights (which it sadly does) and the rage created in Hitler’s mind at the perfidy of the Yugoslavs as they flip flopped to and from the Axis helped him make the case that Fury was way better than Front!
The imagery also had a core message for people looking at the games in that the coloration, style and general artistic design whilst matching the concepts already placed into TSWW (essentially echoing the artwork of the time frame portrayed without slavishly borrowing or copying it), in short “this is fresh and new”. This general style has been replicated on a number of games (which we will talk about in due course) and remains very popular with our clientele.
Indeed some have suggested T Shirts or merch with the box art on it, and frankly I am very tempted (if this would work for you please contact us!). It also helps that my favourite colour is blue, and as such I like the general feel of the artwork, which ties together really quite neatly.
Finally, the cool art, and brilliant contents have a special place in my heart for this game – its my favourite product in the range as the topic is almost always current, whilst the game itself once you get into it, is finely balanced, challenging, exciting (well how else can you show the world how to bomb a fleet in a port?), and in short has a bit of everything… even onesided operations (yeah I know I said finely balanced) once the Germans intervene.
It’s a great game in my view, and the Balkan Fury II revision has great potential. I am debating new art but frankly that is not really a goer as I think we got this very much correct the first time around. What do you all think?