An Interview with Ozark Game Designer Drew Wagenhoffer:

New 04/17/03

Back to ACW Campaign Games

Drew Wagenhoffer, the game designer for HPS' Campaign Corinth and now Campaign Ozark, has again consented to a little interview about the new game. Drew explains some of the facets of game design and goes into some of the ideas behind Ozark as a game.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I am 31 years old and a physician by training, but I suppose you could say that my "passion" is history, specifically the American Civil War. Sports have also been a major part of my life. I played tennis in college and college football season is my favorite time of the year. I live in the Pacific Northwest, which is nice but unfortunately too far away to visit the battlefields on a regular basis. As a hobby, I collect book-length tactical studies of Western and Trans-Mississippi CW battles. I've got hundreds of them from small skirmishes like Whitney's Lane, Ark. on up to all the big battles.


You are now the designer for the first two HPS ACW games. As I asked in our first interview about Corinth, why did you choose Ozark as your second topic?

As much as I like Western campaigns (and some Eastern ones), I like Trans-Mississippi conflicts even more. Pea Ridge is my favorite battle and Wilson's Creek is way up there as well. The campaigns in this theater are also relatively short and the armies obviously small so they make for quick games. I wanted to make campaign games that gamers could finish in a reasonable amount of time, and this area is good for that.


Since you already had Corinth under your belt, was this game easier to design?

Yes, much easier. After having already designed one of these, I became much more efficient. You learn which things work and don't waste as much time creating elaborate things that you end up discarding.


How did finding maps and OOBs for this game go? Since these campaigns were more obscure than Corinth (with the possible exception of Pea Ridge), was it tougher finding sources?

It was easier than one might think. There are book length studies of most of the battles. On the other hand, there isn't a whole lot of redundant source material that you can use for comparison. I would say that information on Boonville and Lexington was probably the hardest to find, especially early info on Missouri state forces.


Have you come up with shortcuts or other methods to lessen the time it takes to design a game such as this from start to finish?

No, not really, nothing that really pops out at the moment. I think I was just more efficient in arranging and performing the same tasks as before. I guess the size and scale of the subject matter lends itself to a degree of streamlining as well. The limited resources in the region compared with the West and East restrict the kinds of fanciful what-ifs you can dream up for those other theaters.


Bill Peters has mentioned that he substantially changed the way he created the campaign trees between Eckmuhl and Wagram. Did you change the general design of the campaign tree for any of these three new campaigns, or do they remain essentially the same as Corinth?

There are differences in the campaign structure of Ozark compared with Corinth. The Ozark campaigns are more linear than those seen with Corinth and generally have fewer choices per situation while still maintaining the important 'carrot and stick' aspect of the choices available. But the general design of the tree is the same. It uses the same software.


Did you spend more or less time on Ozark than you did on Corinth?

I didn't count the hours but it was much less for Ozark.


You mentioned in our last interview that you already owned about 50% of the source materials for Corinth, and ended up buying the other 50% while designing the game. Was this again the case with Ozark?

Luckily for me, I owned and read all the major sources beforehand. That probably helped significantly shorten the development time as, unlike with Corinth, I had everything mapped out in my head before I even started. Plus, I did the Pea Ridge work several years ago.


What was the most important source (or sources) you used in making Ozark?

Besides primary sources, like the OR, these secondary sources were essential:
Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West by Earl Hess and William Shea
The Battle of Carthage: Border War in Southwest Missouri July 5, 1861 by Hinze and Farnham
Embattled Arkansas by Michael Banasik
The Civil War Battle of Lexington Missouri by Michael Gillespie
The Battle of Wilson's Creek by Edwin Cole Bearss
Wilson's Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It by W.G. Piston and Richard Hatcher.

These are great books that I cannot recommend enough. The Gillespie work isn't great but there isn't anything better so I included it.


Price's Missouri Raid of 1864 would seem to fit in well with the theme of this game. Did you ever consider putting that campaign into Ozark? If so, did you just run out of room or did it have to be removed for some other reason?

No. A good friend of mine, and one of the other designers who is currently working on another CW campaign, has "dibs" on that one-when and if it ever gets made is up to him. I do think it is substantial enough to warrant a separate game. The Red River could be in the category as well.


Do you play any of the other HPS series of games? If so, which is your favorite and why?

Not much. As HPS games go I mainly stick to CW stuff.


How do you determine which hexes become objective hexes, and how do you refine the victory level of a scenario and the amount of points each objective hex is worth?

It really depends. I place more emphasis on historically important landmarks in the historical scenarios but am less likely to do that on the campaign scenarios that use the same map. I like to put objective hexes on important map features like crossroads, bridges, fords, and selected high ground but don't like to use so many that players can use them as intelligence gathering. What I mean by that is if you put objectives all over the map you can track the progress of the enemy just by looking at the objective flags rather than sending out cavalry as recon forces. The amount of points assigned to objectives depends on how much I want to balance casualties vs. territory in determining victory conditions. I would rather not excessively tie players to objectives but I do like to force them to cover their lines of communications, thus that is where you'll often find the higher point objective hexes in scenarios designed by me.