Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pimp my game: Sun of York

I picked up GMT's Sun of York this summer in the orgy of boardgame buying I did after Dragonflight in August. I'd seen the title back when it was on GMT's P500. I thought I got on the bandwagon then, but apparently not. For anything that's in pre-order, I don't hold my breath. Game companies' priorities change, designers and companies part ways, or a game takes a helaciously long, long time to develop (yes, I am referring to Academy Game's years-late release of Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal). After seeing Sun of York back then, I just forgot about it.

When I learned it was shipping, I didn't move on it for a while. It's a card-based system like Columbia Games' Dixie series. I liked Dixie when it came out and there was a lot of interest when it debuted at an Enfilade! long ago. A lot of the enthusiasm was for the artwork by Eric Hotz; every regiment at Bull Run, Shiloh, and Gettysburg had a card with color artwork showing the uniform of that regiment. I played a few games with Kevin Smyth, but it never caught on, mostly because we play miniatures and our boardgames tend to languish in neglect.

In my post-Dragonflight enthusiasm for boardgames, I started snapping up titles I'd been on the fence about and Sun of York was one of the first I picked up. The game is nicely done and there are hundreds of cards for the York and Lancaster sides. The cards represent the historical leaders, fighting units, terrain features, and special events (like treason, fatigue, etc.). As I wrote earlier, I had some custom dice made that I could use for Sun of York and Richard III to add a little red rose/white rose flavor. I also "sleeved" the cards for protection. Sleeves are sine qua non for CCGs because continued use will wear them out quickly. I probably won't use Sun of York that much, but it's nice to have protection.

Both of these customizations to the game components were pretty straightforward, but the biggest thing I wanted to do to pimp the game was make a game mat to play the cards on rather than just bunch them in ersatz areas. The big kicker to Sun of York, like Dixie, is that there is no board. The cards are played in areas that represent parts of the battlefield. In Sun of York, there are 13 areas that represent the left, center, and right rear for each side; a middle ground; and flank positions.

I saw some game boards online that I could print out in tiles and tape together, but I wanted something better. Being a miniatures gamer, I use colored felt for the tabletop as the substrate for the terrain. I figured I could use felt for a Sun of York mat that would look something like the fields of Old England. My idea was that each area would be a separate field and the line separating the areas would be hedges.

Ye Fielde of Battaille
I got a 3' x 5' piece of felt in "pickle green." It's a somewhat mottled medium green color that looks much better for wargaming terrain than a solid green. I chalked out the lines separating the various areas. I then started masking off some areas and spraying them with various colors of Design Master paints. The Design Master colors are flat floral and earth tones because the paint is intended for use with floral design. The varied colors would produce the kind of view you see when flying over fields rather than the uniform mottled green of the felt. After I painted several sections, I used Tacky Glue and model railroad flocking to make the "hedges" that separate the areas. I'm pretty happy with the result.

View from the Lancastrian side
The Yorkist advance into the middle ground at 1st Saint Alban's
"Hedge" details
Lancastrians hard pressed (will Somerset lose his head?)
Even though it's for cards, I get a strong sense a a miniatures tabletop from it. The cats like sitting on it, too.

From start to finish, the game mat took about four days to complete with an aggregate amount of time spent being maybe four hours. Spraying was quick and easy. The longest time was spent waiting for the Tacky Glue to dry.

I'm heading up to Bottoscon in Surrey, BC next weekend for three days of boardgaming. My pimped-out Sun of York is one of the games I'll be playing. The only thing I'm lacking now are deck-holders for the cards. The decks are huge and the sleeves make then very slippery. They tend too easily to slide around and become a big mess of cards on the table when they should be a nice crisp stack. A deck holder would constrain them and make them easier to manage. I have just the thing in mind, but I don't think anyone makes it. I see a custom woodworking project in my future.


  1. Looks like a glorious summer day.

    Fields look good and great idea on how to set up a board.

  2. Dear Dave,
    Thanks for the description of hoy you made the field. Heck you could even add some houses, tree, shrubs and play a fifteen MM game. Nice going!

    By the way when I related the article to my wife, she chuckled. She looked at it and commented, "Of course the cats like it! What self respecting cat wouldn't like fresh sheets...."

    A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

  3. Great work! I love seeing this type of thing!

  4. That looks really good! Great idea.