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Fields of Despair, 2nd Printing

Status:  Not there yet
Orders To Date:  85
DESIGNER Kurt Keckley
DEVELOPER Mike Bertucelli
PRODUCERS Mark Simonitch, Rodger MacGowan, Andy Lewis, Tony Curtis, Gene Billingsley
Regular Price: $99.00
P500 Price: $69.00

Note: This 2nd Printing will be identical to the 1st printing. As usual, we'll update any known errata when we print.


  • One 22×34 inch Game Board
  • 2 Player Boards
  • 2 Player Aid Cards
  • 2 Player Screens
  • 140 Wooden Blocks
  • 74 Wooden Cubes
  • 2 Countersheets
  • Rules Booklet
  • Play Booklet
  • 1 Sheet of Sticky Labels
  • 2 Draw Bugs
  • 12 Dice
  • Central Powers Points Track
  • 1 Solitaire Play Aid



Note from Gene: It's not often that a designer brings us a game that I feel is truly "something new." Fields of Despair is such a game. Calling it a "block game" just doesn't do it justice. Kurt has created a game that builds on some previous game concepts (blocks and hexes), yet brings us a gaming experience that is, at least to me, unique. I think you guys are going to LOVE this game - I'm just a little worried that because of its uniqueness, we may not be able to explain it to you very well. The information below is our best effort, but please, if you have any doubts about this one, check Consimworld and BGG and Kurt's Design blog and ask plenty of questions of the design and development team, maybe even get involved in testing. You'll be glad you did. Fields of Despair ROCKS! - Gene


Fields of Despair: France 1914-1918 is a 2-player hex-based strategic level block war game set on the Western Front of the First World War. Players take control of the Allies or Central Powers fighting the war on land, at sea, and in the air all the while making tough economic and technological decisions at home.

Fields of Despair has a unique block system designed to maintain the fog of war throughout the entire game. In most games, block combat values range from one to four. In Fields of Despair the range is zero to twenty.

The range in values makes Fields of Despair a very deceptive game. Players can build up a large force with a single block instead of giving away their strategy with a stack of blocks.

Movement is simple and free flowing. Players are allowed to “make change” during the movement phase. Thus a block with a combat value of 16 could be broken in two blocks of 8 before moving, or conversely two blocks could be combined into one. Zero-value blocks known as “Deception” blocks could also be part of the exchange. Thus after every movement phase you never really know the strength of your enemy.

A unique phase called Strategic Reorganization, allow players to make the large build ups of the First World War in secret.

The fog of war isn’t lost after first contact with the enemy. Blocks remain hidden even when enemies occupy the same hex and stay hidden until one player decides to allocate an air squadron for reconnaissance or sends his men across no man’s land.

Combat is fought in singular rounds and involves the allocation of limited artillery resources across the front. Unlike many games, the active player is not obligated to fight a round of infantry combat. If he wants to sit in his trench and fight an attritional artillery battle that is his prerogative. However, if he does choose to send his men “over the top” all blocks are revealed and one round of combat is fought. After loses are taken all blocks are stood back up as armies retreat back to their trenches.

In Fields of Despair, Allied and Central economies are in a constant state of decline. Therefore, at the start of each turn, the ability to supply troops, keep planes in the air and artillery full of shells, decreases.

Players are given a limited number of Economic Points (EP’s) each turn and must make several tough choices. EP’s must be allocated among war the war efforts of supply capacity, logistics, and artillery or aircraft production and maintenance.

EP’s may also be used to help fight the war at sea and in the East as well as advance technologies of the day including: aircraft improvements (the Fokker tri-planes didn’t invent themselves), chlorine and mustard gas as well as the gas-masks to counter them and tanks.

The wars at sea and in the East are abstracted through simple streamlined systems that affect both the Western Front and the economies of each power.

Fields of Despair includes a 10-turn 1914-1918 historical campaign as well as historical scenarios for the early, mid and late war. Free set up scenarios for all 4 periods are also included which allow for alternate history play. What happens if the Germans never attack Belgium? What if France struck first?


  • 1 Mounted Map 22 x 34
  • 1 Rule Book
  • 1 Playbook of Scenarios and Examples of Play
  • 2 Player Boards ( to track Econ and Tech)
  • 140 Blocks and Stickers
  • 117 5/8” Counters
  • 54 1” Counters (Air, Artillery, Tanks)
  • 92 1/4” wood cubes (to track economies, naval war and Eastern front)
  • 2 Bags for drawing Naval War and Eastern Front chits/cubes
  • Various Player Aids 



* Some scenarios

Designer: Kurt Keckley

Developer: Mike Bertucelli



Customer Reviews
# of Ratings: 10
1. on 3/31/2018, said:
The solitaire rules are complicated; I didn't make it through the first turn. It's probably good as a two-player game though.
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2. on 2/4/2017, said:
Beautiful game. Really enjoying this as I read Guns of August.
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3. on 2/1/2017, said:
I was involved in the playtesting of this game and can say the designer put a lot of work into producing a great block game. It should have a lot of replayability because both players have to make difficult decisions on where to allocate resources as well as trying to anticipate what your opponent is doing. They've managed to make the slugfest of the western front interesting.
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4. on 4/27/2015, said:
I was able to play a game of "Fields of Despair" at GMT-West in April of 2015. I added my name to the P-500 list on Monday after I returned home.
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5. on 3/2/2015, said:
I have played this game and enjoyed it immensely. 1. Once I learned the rules, which are very simple to pick up, the game flows quickly so that an impatient player like myself doesn't suffer boredom from downtime. Even just waiting to watch which blocks your opponent pushes can be nail-biting. Where will his main attack come? 2. The fog of war (strategic reorganization) element is absolutely new and unique. The designer's mechanic is elegant, simple and astoundingly powerful. It fits the time period perfectly. When I first learned the mechanic, I frowned, afraid that players would simply 'game' the system and break the game. To prove my point, I tried to be 'gamey' and I was promptly punished by the game mechanics themselves. It was the most satisfying and eye-popping spanking I ever got from a game. You don't HAVE to play historically, but if you don't, you WILL be punished. 3. Your choices are simple, not overwhelming at all, but they are important choices and you will agonize over them. Playing some games feels like a lot of work. From setting up to getting burid in rules to chucking fistfuls of dice, you can easily get bored with many wargames. This IS NOT THAT KIND of experience. That's what blew my mind about this game. The rules you can pick up in 15-30 minutes, depending on how fast a learner you are. The mechanics are simple. The gameplay is straightforward. Historic play is forced by the mechanics themselves as opposed to being compelled by an arbitrary ruleset. When you play this game, you will enjoy the smooth elegance that you get from a decent game of chess, but with the historic flavor and feel of a full-blown wargame. This game is an absolute treat and a must-have for every wargamer. I expect it will become a classic once it's finally published. Do yourself a favor and pick this up, and then find me at Strategicon for a decent game. --Marshall Neal, Wargamer
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6. on 10/21/2014, said:
Not a big block gamer nor WWI gamer but really love this game. Played at the GMT open house 10/19/14 and enjoyed it. Very easy, lots of tension. Great way they handle artillery and airplanes. The production is critical and must be thought out carefully, what do you improve, artillery, air power, gas warfare, gas protection.... After playing the game it is now a must buy for me. Love the tension, fun, thoughtfulness of the game.
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7. on 10/19/2014, said:
Normally I do not get excited by block games. They are fun, but a little to simplistic for my "wargaming" tastes. But not this game. This makes my P500 list. And it will be the first block game I have owned since the 8th grade. I sat down around 9am at GMT West with another curious soul to fiddle with it and spent 6+ hours digging into it. This feels to me like a hex based wargame with "real" fog of war. The mechanics are streamlined allowing for ease of learning, but they are substantial enough to provide a complex and challenging game. There is the Russian front, US entry, strategic warfare, technology research, forts, artillery, planes, maintenance, production and more. And all of these are interconnected during the economic phase when, as you may already suspect, there is never enough to do everything. Action on the map includes infantry, cavalry, air recon, dogfights, movement, artillery bombardment, combat, breakthrough movement, and breakthrough combat, and emergency transport of troops to the front or laterally to bolster a hex being attacked. Then someone starts digging trenches and the slugfest begins as we wait for gas, tanks, and the Russian front troops, and the US entry. All the time manpower and resources keep dwindling. Combat resolution uses "buckets of dice", which makes for a real simple CRT. The basic roll to hit is 5 or 6, but forts, Big Bertha, Gas and Gas Mask technical advances will cause this to vary from just 6 to 3 thru 6.
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8. on 1/20/2014, said:
I have played this several times. Great game!
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9. on 1/20/2014, said:
Played this several times now. Kurt is bringing a great game to the table!
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Showing comments 1-9 of 9