Yesterday I read an article on Tabletop Gaming News about a new game called Shattered Sword Fantasy Battle Card Game. It sounded like a game I would enjoy, and as I dug deeper I was able to see why. This game is very, very similar to Battleground Fantasy Warfare by Your Move Games. In general, both games use cards to depict armies on a tabletop. The stats needed for the game are printed on the cards directly. It is a great idea, and at first glance it seems that Shattered Sword is
a pretty near rip off of very similar to Battleground Fantasy. You can read some discussion on the Battleground forums on the issue.
I am not a legal expert by any stretch, but it does seem that T.O.G. Entertainment, the publishers of Shattered Sword, could face some trademark or copyright violations. I don’t know what trademarks Your Move Games has, but I do know that when dealing with trademark matters you look to the likelihood of confusion that can occur.
The scope of a trademark is determined by whether there is "likelihood of confusion" (note that this is different from whether there has been any actual confusion), between that trademark and another trademark in the minds of the consuming public. Likelihood of confusion is generally determined by reviewing a set list of factors…
You can read the rest of the wikipedia article to see what the factors are. I for one can see a case where someone will show up on either the Battleground or Shattered Sword forums in the future with decks for the other game, and will have purchased them by mistake. The games just seem very similar. In the discussion on the Tabletop Gaming News article Jeremy offers some good suggestions for how to change the card design in such a way as to help truly differentiate the two games.
I would still encourage the creator to take the design further from Battlegrounds. Many simple changes would help differentiate the two at first glance. Possibilities include changing the ground from a bright green grass to a brown or grey toned wasteland, placing a border around the cards, listing the statistics along the side rather than the bottom of the cards, using different images, colours, and borders to delineate the statistics, etc. I would not ask that every card be redrawn. They are already unique models and a top-view is really the most logical choice for such a game. I would only like to see more of a redesign in the presentation.
From a gamers standpoint, I bought Battleground because it was radically different from every other game available. I would love to give another system, like Shattered Sword, a chance, but I would prefer to see a new game mechanic. Blow me away not just with some new rules, but also a totally new way of playing. I have no time to paint miniatures anymore, so miniatures style games that don’t require painting often get my dollar. However in this case, Battleground will continue to get my $$ when it comes to the card based gaming genre.
The games designer has taken the time over the past day to show that the rules of the game are different, that the terminology in the game is different, that the way the art is generated is different, and is even planning to make some changes to the cards to make them look different (link). I have still not seen a card though that does still look like a Battleground card, at least enough to confuse some people. I hope they can re-tool the game into something that is unique enough to make it worth buying, but for the time being I recommend Battleground Fantasy to anyone interested in this style of gaming.