Baptism at Bull Run. The Battle of First Bull Run. July 21, 1861.

VIII. An Eye Fatiguing Number of Hours

Now that I have summarized the game mechanics present in Baptism at Bull Run (in my previous design diary entries), I wanted to briefly review the time involved in making this game a reality. If this information is useful to another game designer—be they a greenhorn or a grizzled veteran—then so much the better.

The following table shows the total man-hours spent on each type of activity during the 15 months between May 2007 and July 2008 (inclusive):

Category Man-Hours %
Research 97 8.9
The Map 295 27.1
Game Rules 296 27.2
Supplements 41 3.8
CyberBoard Files 67 6.2
Remote Playtesting 206 18.9
Website 86 7.9
TOTAL 1,088 100.0

Research: This category including all time spent online and offline doing research about the Battle of First Bull Run. Note that this value does not include the time I spent reading history books on the Battle of First Bull Run 'just for the fun of it'; instead, it's the time I spent digging for more detail after I put those books down. Investigating and consolidating the details of the orders of battle (as they relate to the game) are also included in this tally.

The Map: Drafting the map for Baptism at Bull Run was a Herculean task equalled only in the writing of the game's rules. The nearly 300 man-hours logged on the cartographic tasks includes a comparatively short amount of time spent on finding and analyzing the source map and an eye fatiguing number of hours spent drawing the map itself (using Abode Illustrator). The map that is included in the game is the 44th version.

Game Rules: As this category's name implies, this is the time that I dedicated to composing the game's rule book. The hours include jotting down the initial design concepts until the final dotting of the i's and crossing of the t's. In the end, the game rules went through a total of 33 different revisions. The rule book that is now available for download is 34th version of the document.

Supplements: This, the smallest category, includes the hours that I spent writing, re-writing, formatting, and then re-formatting the "Orders of Battle", the "Player's Aid (Reference Sheet) ", and "The CyberBoard Guide to Baptism at Bull Run" supplementary documents.

CyberBoard Files: Creating the numerous playtest CyberBoard game boxes (plus the final 'official' edition) as well as designing the graphics that appear in them is what this category represents. For those not familiar with CyberBoard, it is a computer program that, once installed, allows individuals to play board games against remote opponents. Playing a game in this manner entails making moves in the game, saving those moves into a file, and sending them to your opponent via email who will then review those moves before making his/her own moves. (For more information visit:

Remote Playtesting: This is the time that I spent organizing and adjudicating (as necessary) the playtest games as well as answering any questions the playtesters had. It does not, however, include the time spent by the playtesters actually playing the game. Also, as this category's name implies, all playtesting was performed against remote opponents, which is a benefit when local players are few and far between.

Website: This category summarizes the hours spent on generating content for and laying out this website, which includes this as well as the prior design diary entries.

Taken altogether and when translated into standard 40-hour work weeks, the total time I spent working on Baptism at Bull Run just exceeded 27 weeks of work—that's a little over half a year of working 9-to-5. In a sense, while involved in this project, I've been working a second, part-time job. It's been quite a long ride, but it sure has been interesting.

• • •

Before I finish, I would to take a moment to thank all of the individuals who were involved (either directly or indirectly) in this project. First of all, I would like to publicly thank Bowen Simmons for his creativity and vision in moving the gaming industry a step forward with his innovative design seen in the game, Bonaparte at Marengo.

Next, I would like to extend a special thank you to the playtesters for volunteering their time, specifically: Shana Bertram, Mark Buetow, Will Green, G. Haggerty, Scott A. Henshaw, Brian R. Mullin, Kevin Warrender, and Andrew Wright. All of you did a marvelous job at blind-testing the game (at first) and then playtesting again and again. Additionally, I would like to thank J. R. Jarvinen for pinch-hitting as one of the proofreaders.

Finally, I would like to personally acknowledge and thank G. Haggerty and Brian R. Mullin for their unwavering support and for the countless hours they dedicated to helping me make my vision a reality. Gentlemen, thank you for helping me stay on course and avoiding the numerous pitfalls.

• • •

I hope everyone enjoys the game—download it, play it, and let me know what you think.

László Á. Koller
July 21, 2008


Released: 2008-07-21 00:01 EDT.


For questions and/or feedback, please send e-mail to:     (Click the hyperlink to reveal the e-mail address.)

Further discussion about Baptism at Bull Run can be found at either of these game hobbyist websites:  BoardGameGeek  ConsimWorld

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Copyright © 2008-2011. László Á. Koller. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution prohibited.
Pencil & Wash Drawing: "Colonel Burnside's brigade, First and Second Rhode Island, and Seventy-first New York regiments, with their artillery, attacking the rebel batteries at Bull Run.", by Alfred R. Waud (1861).