So Much Eye Candy: Cool Mini or Not at Gen Con 2012

While I didn’t get to see Cool Mini or Not at Adepticon 2013, I certainly saw CMON back at Gen Con in 2012.

Every time I stopped by the stretching Cool Mini or Not booth areas at Gen Con, I found a very packed, interested gaming crowd taking in all of the eye candy CMON had on display. Alongside Privateer Press, CMON seemed to have a tremendously successful Gen Con. Attendees new to miniature gaming could be excused for thinking that they were seeing multiple companies’ booths, but the unifying connection in every one of CMON’s 18 booth areas was the high quality and stunning visual displays.

CMON’s Display and Demo Boards

While the Wrath of Kings’ demo boards CMON had brought were functional and better than a simple flocked board, they were not as spectacular as some of their other offerings, but did put the focus squarely on the expressive sculpts of the miniatures. Players had the opportunity to battle as the thin warriors of House Nasier or the porcine warriors of House Teknes.

Piglike Teknes miniatures for Wrath of Kings battle against thin Nasier on desert demo board

Wrath of Kings Desert Demo Board: House Teknes vs. House Nasier

Realistic 28mm scale orange lava flowing over miniature terrain board for Confrontation at 2012 Gen Con

Confrontation Lava Demo Board

Cool Mini or Not kept Confrontation fans’ appetites whetted with a lava demo board of the game. I could have easily missed further Confrontation offerings because there really was so much to take in throughout CMON’s booth space.

There were also demo tables for players to try out Sedition Wars, Relic Knights, and Zombicide, but aside from the two Dark Age boards and Rum and Bones, the most impressive tables were reserved specifically for display purposes.

The Wrath of Kings Display Board

What a sight! The Wrath of Kings Castle was the definition of amazing and probably the envy of rival gaming companies. Designed and built by Rob Hawkins, the table took over 200 hours from start to finish. The Goritsi forces spilling out of the grey stonework buildings really put it over the top. The Goritsi definitely have a darkness to them and are comprised of the lupine Skorza, the female Blood Dancers, and would seem to be led by the red-clad Herald of Blood. Bearing such close resemblance to Confrontation’s Wolfen, the Skorza pose an interesting problem for brand recognition and differentiation, but since they are now released by the same company, the similarities should not matter. The Goritsi also boast the monstrous Ucuzo, which looks like a lab experiment gone awry (or perhaps deliberately concocted).

Pig warriors Union Workers miniatures from Wrath of Kings battle Skorza lupines and monster Ucuzo

A Monstruous Ucuzo Defends the Goritsi City Against the Invading Teknes

Arrayed against the onslaught of the Goritsi are the pig warriors of House Teknes. The rank and file of Teknes appear to be the Teknes Union Workers who wield massive swords. The Ironward is the figure reminiscent of Mad Max’s Master Blaster with a slave-driver on top of a pig warrior/Union Worker.

Beautiful stunning diorama of 32mm Wrath of Kings miniatures clashing at a castle or village

Woodland Scenics Armatures Used as Dead Trees in the Foreground of Hawkins’ Stunning Diorama

In his blog, Rob Hawkins refers to the diorama as a Goritsi City and details its construction in five blog entries, beginning with constructing the hillside foundation followed by the the construction of the buildings’ basic shapes. To enable faster gluing using super glues Hawkins uses Liquid Nails to coat the pink foam in the same way that latex paint is used to protect styrofoam from destructive aerosol spray paint.

Tentacled octopus Zalaak miniatures battles slender female Blood Dancers in Wrath of Kings diorama

Two Tentacled Zalaak Face Off Against Blood Dancers In and Near a Foamcore Building

The city’s buildings are constructed out of pink foam with thick art board used for the roof tiles. Hawkins estimates that over 1,000 separate roof tiles are on the diorama! The one detail that has puzzled me about the diorama since Gen Con is the seemingly unfinished black and white area. This is, in fact, an elemental’s head with white circles for eyes.

Wrath of Kings miniatures fight over a superb Goritsi city at Gen Con 2012 in front of stone buildings with red tiled roofs

The Black Cylinder and Dome is an Elemental’s Head! With White Eyes

Super Dungeon Explore: Von Drakk Manor

Soda Pop Miniatures Chibi Super Dungeon Explore miniatures display castle at Cool Mini or Not Booth

Super Details from Rob Hawkins: Von Drakk Manor

Von Drakk Manor was easily in the Top 5 of all terrain pieces throughout Gen Con for sheer quality and artistry. It also highlighted the expansion forces to CMON’s joint venture with Soda Pop Miniatures. The castle is just as stylized as Soda Pop’s distinctive, chibi figures and was also built by terrain genius Rob Hawkins. He has many more pictures of the stunning layout on his website. The fiery monsters were from the Caverns of Roxor expansion that CMON/Soda Pop released in limited quantities to Gen Con attendees, before they went on sale to the public in October.

Three Cartoonish Dungeon Explorer Miniatures in Cool Mini's Super Dungeon Explore castle with fire elementals at gen con 2012

Von Drakk Manor Plays Home to Caverns of Roxor Denizens at Gen Con 2012

Ron and Bones – Rum and Bones

CMON was also previewing another of its newly-acquired licenses, Rum and Bones. Originally titled Ron and Bones by TaleofWar, the game is a pirate-themed miniatures skirmish game with highly stylized figures. In a booth filled with so many other goodies, the pirate ship did stand out for its quality construction. Little has subsequently been said about Rum and Bones (that I have seen), though Table Top Hell is impressed by the game’s miniatures.

Gorgeous miniature 28mm pirate ship for Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012 in the Cool Mini or Not Booth

Rum & Bones: Skirmish Pirate Game, Palm Trees from Pegasus Hobbies

From all that I could see of Rum and Bones, each model is a unique personality. The character Teruk’te wears a Sharkskin and will appeal to any gamer who has ever wanted a miniature that wears an entire shark as a costume! Tale of War Miniatures still has information in English available on the game including a downloadable PDF that explains the game’s mechanics, as well as displays the entire range of finely detailed miniatures.

Inside a miniature pirate ship for Ron and Bones at Cool Mini or Not booth at Gen Con with cannons

The View Below Decks Of the Pirate Ship’s Impressive Armament

One of the neater things about the Rum and Bones demo table is that it has been carefully constructed to match the miniatures’ base size and prevent them from slipping or sliding out of position.

Top down view of miniature model pirate ship for skirmish wargame Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012

The Savage Teruk’te Alongside Pier Del Mocho in Aft Castle High Above the Sloot Gunner

Dark Age Industrial Shop Board

One of CMON’s original brands is Dark Age, of course. Even though I had seen them at the GAMA Trade Show, I still marveled over both of the Dark Age demo boards. Having played on the board with the rock outcroppings, most of my attention was taken by the industrial garage board. The details really bring the board to life with rigging over the top, bike chains used as industrial belts, vats of liquid, and multiple elevations to play on.

Post-Apocalyptic futuristic miniature game Dark Age industrial garage terrain at Gen Con 2012

Did I mention the working lighting? By varying the textures on the board, it creates depth and detail and adds a sense of realism. The diamond-plating used on some of the floor panels is particularly effective. It really does look like a place the mutant Skarrd would have taken over or would be in the process of raiding.

Closer look at industrial garage Dark Age demo board for miniatures at Gen Con 2012

Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Rin Farrah from Relic Knights

Another attraction in the CMON booths was cosplayer and glamor model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais from Canada as Rin Farrah, one of the chief protagonists of Relic Knights. Bourbonnais posed for pictures with fans and gamers in her self-made costume and later explained that it was her first time attending Gen Con, let alone any tabletop gaming convention. For Bourbonnais it was different than comic and anime conventions, but still “a lot of fun” and reminded her of her high school’s tabletop games organization. At Gen Con Bourbonnais only appeared as Rin Farrah, but she has cosplayed as another Relic Knights character, Candy, in the past. As of early October (2012) she still had yet to play Relic Knights herself, but looked forward to receiving her complete game to try it for herself, but did say that she has watched demos of the game.

Busty Cosplayer Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con playing Rin Farrah with miniature her costume is based on

Two Versions of Relic Knights’ Rin Farrah: Cosplay and Miniature

Watching others game is nothing new to Bourbonnais who spent part of her teenage years watching friends paint armies and play Warhammer 40k. While she never got into the hobby herself, for Relic Knights Bourbonnais will be playing Rin Farrah’s faction. Usually though she is quite busy working on her next costume. As a former fashion designer, she’s been sewing costumes and prom dresses since she was 19. Rin Farrah’s leather outfit was a first for Bourbonnais, who makes all of her costumes and props herself.

Yellow tinted glasses and yellow and black spandex on busty Hornet played by Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con 2012

MC Bourbonnais as Canadian Superheroine Hornet

On Thursday Marie-Claude Bourbonnais initially appeared as the black-and-yellow spandex-clad Hornet, her character in the Canadian web-series Heroes of the North. Filmed in Bourbonnais’ home city of Montreal, the series is in English, available to view for free online, and follows the adventures of Canadian superheroes. The character of Hornet only appears at the tail end of the first season of the series, but becomes more prominent in its second season, says Bourbonnais. While she came to Gen Con to promote Relic Knights, another company specializing in 3D body scans had also contacted Bourbonnais about capturing her 3D image in the Hornet costume.

Blonde busty anime woman in green swimsuit on Pool location for card game Tentacle BentoBourbonnais also has the distinction of having modeled for a card in Soda Pop Miniatures’ Tentacle Bento card game and has subsequently cosplayed as that character, essentially doing a cosplay of herself. Bourbonnais was also the basis for one of two promotional pewter miniatures in support of Tentacle Bento’s abortive Kickstarter run.

And the Display Cases

Gamers could have also easily missed all of the wonderfully painted miniatures packed into the glass display cases at the back of the Cool Mini or Not booth areas given all there was to see elsewhere. Here and there though gamers’ faces pressed up against the glass that stretched yard after yard. Sedition Wars, Dark Age, Relic Knights, Wrath of Kings, and Confrontation all vied for visitors’ attention, but were safely locked away, like heroin just out of reach of a junkie. There may have been little puddles of drool on the carpet. As one would expect from the home of cool miniatures on the internet, almost every miniature was beautifully painted. The exceptions were the gray master sculpts on display in the cases.

Anime-influenced miniatures for the Relic Knights game with power familiars on display at the 2012 Gen Con

Anime-Infused Miniatures from Relic Knights with Chibi Power Familiars

On top of the display cases though, within reach of any eager gamer was the impressive winged form of the Titan Dragon for Confrontation. Fashioned out of resin, the figure is a true status symbol among miniature gamers with a hefty price tag of $300.

Red, black, grey, and white massive Titan Dragon miniature for Confrontation at Gen Con 2012

The Massive Titan Dragon for Confrontation Lives Up To Its Name: Free from a Display Case

Ravage Magazine

Cover of Ravage Issue 7 Advertising Zombicide Toxic City MallWhile I would have liked to browse CMON’s wares a bit more, all I really had to time to do was to pick up the first three issues of Ravage Magazine. Ravage is an import, translated from French, and plays off of the gorgeous artwork CMON and its affiliates have access to. Like Harbinger Magazine of the early 2000s but with a much stronger visual focus and appeal, Ravage focuses on a wide range of miniatures with Cool Mini’s lines featuring prominently, but there have also been articles on MERCS, Infinity, Privateer Press, and even a look at 6th Edition Warhammer 40k. There are some translation artifacts in the articles that vary from interviews with designers, to game overviews, to painting and terrain tutorials, but despite the language difficulties, the magazine is off to a very strong start and is now in April on Issue 7.

Kevin Siembieda on Robotech RPG Tactics

On Monday, April 15 I called and interviewed Kevin Siembieda over the phone about the upcoming Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter. While other legendary RPG designers have worked on multiple game systems over the years, Siembieda has spent the last three decades delving deep into his own Palladium rules system producing titles at Palladium Books like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Beyond the Supernatural, Ninjas & Superspies, Heroes Unlimited, and of course, RIFTS and Robotech. As of April 18, the Kickstarter from Ninja Division is LIVE and seeking to raise $70,000 in 32 days, but he had a lot to say on Monday about his playtest experience with Robotech RPG Tactics, the newer post-2005 edition of the Palladium Robotech RPG, his experience wargaming, Kickstarter, and RIFTS.

Banner with Valkyrie Robotech artwork but text reads Robotech RPG Tactics Now Being Funded on Kickstarter. Join the Cause

CG: First off, Minmei or Lisa Hayes?
KS: Oh, I’m a Lisa Hayes guy. I like women who are mature. [Laughs] As simple as that.
CG: What’s your favorite song that Minmei sings though?
KS: “We Will Win”, no question about it. That fight scene was epic.
CG: You just had your birthday. How old did you turn?
KS: I am 57. I feel like 27, but the white hair says otherwise.
CG: You’ve had that for some time, right?
KS: Yeah, I started turning grey when I was in my twenties, so yeah, my hair turned silver about ten years ago. It just gets a little whiter, but blondes have more fun, so I’m enjoying being a platinum blond.

Siembieda on Robotech Eras

CG: There seems to be a vocal community of fans desperate for the Masters and New Generation sagas, do you have anything to tide them over? I know you mentioned recently that hopefully you’ll be including them, but any further news on that?
KS: There is no “hopefully” including them. I mean, when we started this project, our goal from the very beginning was to do all eras of Robotech. So that has been our plan from day one and that continues to be our plan. It’s easier to tackle them pretty much in order, starting with Macross, so that’s what we’re doing. We plan on banging out pieces for every era of Robotech.

Resin sculpt of Robotech RPG Tactics VF-1A Valkyrie Miniature with UEDF Fleet in art background Palladium Books and Ninja Division

New Sculpt Unveiled for Robotech RPG Tactics: The VF-1A Battloid Valkyrie

The Newer Edition of the Robotech RPG

CG: For someone like me who played Robotech from Palladium back in the ’90s, what about the newer edition of the game, what are some reasons for someone like me to pick it up and take a look at it?
KS: If you’re talking about the current role-playing game, let me just clarify for people who may not be familiar with the game line or haven’t looked at it in a long time: back in 1986 we came out with the Robotech role-playing game that was based on the Harmony Gold anime series and it was hugely popular. And we had that license for like fifteen or seventeen years, I forget what it was, where we let it go after a while because we just kind of thought that we had done everything we could with it and other things were happening.

Then in 2005 we got that license back and one of the big differences is back in the ’80s and ’90s when we originally had the license there was not the wealth of information that we have now. And even Harmony Gold as the licensor didn’t provide us with the kind of information we needed to do what we as fans [saw as] a truly accurate representation of the television series. For example, Southern Cross, we had a bunch of cool animation/artwork/model sheets, but we had no information as to what a lot of that stuff was. You got to remember, this was back in the day before the internet or just as the internet was starting to take off and a lot of this information just was not available. Harmony Gold didn’t have it, we didn’t have it, and I think in the earlier days of Harmony Gold, they were really focusing and looking at Robotech as being their unique extrapolation from original material, which of course, it very much is, but in the advent of the web and the world getting smaller, where everything’s at your fingertips, there’s just a lot more information available about the original material and I think the new generation of creators at Harmony Gold, such as Tommy Yune and a bunch of other guys, sat back and said “Gee, it’d be cool if this stuff was more accurate and was more representative of what you see in the TV series. That’s some of the fun we’ve really been having with the re-tool of this; when we launched Robotech in 2005, we really looked at it as if we had never seen the license before and we gathered all kinds of information. This time Harmony Gold had a wealth of information they could share with us and input and ideas and stats on the various ‘mechs and weapons and characters and things. We dug up even more and so little bits of it are still extrapolations of things.

For example, Southern Cross in particular, there’s just a truckload of new material that people have never seen before. I mean there’s power armor and robots and drones and vehicles and a ton of weapons that are all part of the Army of the Southern Cross and it really makes Southern Cross or the Masters Saga, so much more dynamic and exciting and fun, because there’s just tons and tons of what I call “toys”, like I said, weapons and power armor, all kinds of stuff that you get glimpses of in a TV show, but there’s never really been a lot of information on, so that’s been a blast for us, to do stuff like that. We really just feel like the representation of what we’re doing is so much truer to the TV show than our first run with the series and it’s been a blast doing that. So there’s just a lot of good stuff.

And then when you were talking about Robotech RPG Tactics, that’s even going beyond the strictly roleplaying stuff. With RPG Tactics we’re taking the Robotech environment and the characters and mainly focusing on the mecha and the combat and coming up with an extrapolation on the roleplaying game that enables people to basically play a fast-paced, combat-oriented tabletop game. So you’ll actually have one 1:285th scale plastic figure, what we’re calling game pieces. The detail is just beautiful. You’ll be able to play skirmish games, you’ll be able to scale it up to mass combat. It just brings a whole new dimension and the fact that you’ll now have these beautifully sculpted and detailed figures, that’s wonderful, because obviously in a combat game scenario you really need to see your figures and know where the guy is, where that character is or where that mech is, and where he’s going. We have all these tight, very formal, very crisp playtested-like-crazy set of rules that allow you to really engage in a broad range of combat. It’s just a blast.

White-haired RPG Designer and Legend Kevin Siembieda smiling in crowded Gen Con Exhibitors' Hall

Living Legend: Kevin Siembieda at the Palladium Books Booth at Gen Con 2012

And then for Robotech collectors and fans, these figures are gorgeous. As a fan myself, if someone else were producing this product, I’d want to buy it just because I want the damn figures on my shelf! I’ve never really been a tactical combat guy or a wargamer, so that has limited appeal, although I think this game for me personally as a roleplayer and a Robotech fan, this game is so fun that a lot of people regardless of what their orientation is for Robotech can pick it up pretty easy and have a lot of fun.

Kevin Siembieda’s Wargaming Experience

CG: You’ve touched on a couple of things I wanted to ask you about. So you said you’re not much of a miniature wargamer yourself? What have you played?
KS: For me, I’ve dabbled with a few things. I played a couple of homegrown things with some friends in the past. I’ve played Ironclads a million years ago. I played Battletech. I’m familiar with the market, so I’m familiar with some of the games by Fantasy Flight and of course, the Warhammer 40K stuff, but I’m very much a roleplayer.
CG: So yeah, you don’t have a Warhammer army yourself?
KS: No, sir! [Laughs] But I have plenty of friends who do and that’s the beauty of this product too. For role-players, the pieces are really nice to have too whether they’re just display pieces or whether they represent your character as you’re playing through the game. It’s nice to be able to position them, so everyone knows where their mech is and what their characters are doing. That’s the beauty of this game. The way we approached it is to try to create a game that would have really broad appeal so that any number of Robotech fans can dive in and find some use and find some pleasure with it.

Robotech RPG Tactics 1:285 Scale

CG: Now why the scale of the 1:285th, is that going back to Battletech and other things, that that’s just the micro armor scale?
KS: Yeah, again, we know enough and, of course, the Ninja Division guys know that market inside and out, because they are the guys from Sodapop Miniatures and Cipher Studios. And yeah, they felt that was the best scale, because it coincides with a number of other games and that way you can always mix and match, for those who want to do that. You can mix and match different models and miniatures from other games, especially depending on how far you want to take this stuff. You can have different creatures and mechs and stuff that could be from alien worlds and things, because ultimately all the games you’re only limited by your imagination, so we wanted people to have a wide range of possibilities. Plus, it’s also the scale that most people seem to really want! When we ourselves started to explore this market, we put the question out there and asked the gamers what they really wanted to play and the overwhelming response was the 1:285th scale. So if that’s what players want, then that’s what we’re going to give them. [After the interview, Kevin Siembieda also mentioned the ease of finding terrain in the scale as another contributing factor.]

Palladium Books and Ninja Division: The Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter Campaign

CG: Now what is Palladium Books role in Robotech RPG Tactics exactly? Are you in partnership or is one of you the licensor? How is that working?
KS: Yeah! Palladium is the licensor. We have the rights to the Robotech property for roleplaying and various other things. We’re also going to be the publisher, so we’re bankrolling all of this. And of course, we’ve had input with game design, because while I may not be a wargamer per se, I certainly know Robotech inside and out, know what feel we need for the game. And game design, the fundamentals of game design, apply to most mediums so you want stuff that’s fast-paced and fun, that creates the television experience. It’s all translation. We’ve been working with Sodapop/Cypher Studios/Ninja Division guys to achieve all that.

CG: Who is actually masterminding the Kickstarter campaign? Are you behind that or is Ninja Division doing that?
KS: Well we’re working really closely with the Ninja Division guys, but they are the guys behind the Kickstarter. It’s simply a matter of they have the experience and we don’t.
CG: Right.
KS: So yeah, we’re deferring to their expertise.

“As a Robotech fan, I mean this is just a product that I would kill for. It’s the kind of thing that I’ve wanted to see for the last 25 years.”

CG: I know you’re just as excited as the fans for the Kickstarter, so what are you personally looking forward to getting your hands on?
KS: [Laughs] Oh my gosh! It’s one of these things that’s been killing me! Because Ninja Division doesn’t want us to reveal a lot of what is going to be in the Kickstarter or what’s going to be in this game line. It’s been sort of killing me not to be able to tell people that yes, there’s going to be all the Destroids and yes, the M.A.C. II Monster is freaking gorgeous! And all the figures are gorgeous. As a Robotech fan, I mean this is just a product that I would kill for. It’s the kind of thing that I’ve wanted to see for the last 25 years. So it’s a double kick for us that we get to be the guys who can do this. It’s been very exciting!

Two legged mecha M.A.C. Monster from Macross Sourcebook as line art with huge shoulder-mounted guns and guns on hands

The M.A.C. II Monster: Wait for Kickstarter to See the “Freaking Gorgeous” Sculpt

Kevin Siembieda’s Robotech RPG Tactics Playtest Experience

CG: Are you going to be more of a Zentraedi guy or more of the United Earth Defense Forces?
KS: When I was playtesting I actually played the Zentraedi, so both sides are fun to play.
CG: So you also just answered another question I had. So playtesting: you’ve definitely played the game quite a bit yourself?
KS: Oh, heck yeah! For me, it’s been a learning curve. But I think that worked really good, because I asked a lot of the lowest common denominator questions. One of the things I found, for example, is while the game designers were focusing on certain elements of the game, I – as just a Robotech fan with very little war game experience – I stepped in and when I’m playing the war game, I’m like “Well, why can’t I do this?” And “Why can’t I do that?” And “Can my character do this?” And when they didn’t have an answer, I’m like “Well, why not?” [Laughs]
CG: Do you think that you have shaped the game a bit or did they just explain more of wargaming terms to you?
KS: Oh, well in some cases, it was a matter of “Ok, these are common tropes in this kind of game and this is why we do this.” And in other cases, “Oh yeah, gosh, why can’t we do that?” And “You’re right, it should be faster.” Or “It should be able to do this.” Yeah, I definitely contributed conceptually to what the game should be and my focus is simply to recreate the television experience. If you see it on TV, you should be able to play it. If you couldn’t, it was like, “Well, we need to fix that.” And that’s what the guys who know the rules sat down and did.

CG: I forget the technical name for this, like the Alpha Missile Strike [Macross Missile Massacre], the thing with all the missiles swirling around in the air, but is there an in-game equivalent to that?
KS: Oh yeah, absolutely. Again, at the risk of being a nerd (but that’s what I am)… everything you can see in the television show, we are trying to provide in the gaming experience, so, yes! You can have an Armored Valkyrie or a Super Valkyrie just loaded up with missiles and unleash! You can have missile volleys, you have all kinds of great stuff. Again, everything you can see in the show is pretty much there. There are some exceptions and some modifications and some elements – like a lot of the playtesters have brought up questions about three-dimensional play and… there’s some things of sitting back and saying “You know what? These will be saved for advanced rules.”

CG: Ok. I think even with Ninja Division and the Youtube video, I think they mentioned that one of your characters could be Miriya or play as Roy Fokker, right?
KS: Yeah! Well, I don’t know how I can reveal this quite yet, but yeah, there’ll be mechanisms in there where you can actually play specific characters or use the specific characters as part of your squadron and their inclusion gives you and your team bonuses and such. And then, yeah, especially for roleplayers, it’s easy enough for you to just put your own character in there or a specific TV character and “This model represents that character or another character.” Go to town, man! Just have fun!

John Cadice from Ninja Division on Robotech RPG Tactics at GAMA Trade Show

CG: Were you playing with a measuring tape?
KS: Yeah, yeah! We were using laser pointers and measuring tapes, yep.
CG: So it’s not a hex or grid? You were measuring in inches or centimeters?
KS: Right. I believe it was inches?

CG: Is it a game with alternating activation or do you just sit there while your opponent moves all his figures and then you go?
KS: That’s one of the things that we’ve been fooling around with and… [Kevin Siembieda later clarified:] The fact of the matter is that Robotech® RPG Tactics™ is most definitely turn based. It uses a fast-paced turn system with players trading off activating squadrons during each turn. This helps ensure that a player never has to sit and wait for long periods of time while his opponent is moving and attacking with his entire army. One of our main goals in the design of this game is to keep the action fast and reflective of the action you see in the anime.

CG: What about M.D.C. [Mega Damage Capacity]? Is there an MDC stat or is pretty much all the damage MDC anyways?
KS: Yeah, it’s pretty much all MDC, but yeah, there is an MDC stat. You know, obviously it’s not the same as in the games. [Garbled.] You don’t have to pull out a calculator to do the math, but yeah, it’s basically an MDC equivalent.

CG: Ok. So someone at Ninja Division had to point out all the units to make them equivalent, like one Zentraedi Battle Pod is worth how many ever Destroids?
KS: Oh yeah.
CG: Did you have any input on that or you left that to them as wargamers?
KS: I pretty much left a lot of the real nitty gritty to them as wargamers, although again, it was one of these things where… you know, in the course of all this, because we have been really working on this for- oh God, it’s probably close to six months now, that we fooled around with everything. For example, I think the game started out with a-, in fact, I know the game started out with three Zentraedi to one Earth Defender. And then we adjusted that to two, and then we adjusted it to one and a half, and that was really imbalanced. And then I think we’ve ended up back at what we originally started with, as three Zentraedi to one Earth Defender.
CG: Ok. And we’ve seen Rick Hunter do that many times easily.
KS: Yeah, exactly! And again, we all rewatched the TV show, we all talked a lot about it amongst ourselves, and then we sent in our input to the various people. We had weekly discussions, telephone conferences with the Ninja Division guys and some of our own guys. A few of the playtesters really know their stuff too. We got some really valuable input from a lot of the playtesters and we had a lot of playtesters, because we really wanted to get a lot of different views. In fact, one of the things we did when we sent stuff out to various playtest people is we tried to do a range from experienced tabletop gamers to guys like me, who have never or rarely picked up a war game, to guys who can quote from twenty different systems and armies of, like you were saying earlier, Warhammer. Here’s my 400 Warhammer figures or whatever game they’re into. So we really did want to get a good range of input and see what people who were experienced and inexperienced thought. People who knew Robotech and who didn’t know Robotech. So it’s been really, really an experience getting all that input.

CG: Are there any weird stretch goals for fans like Rick’s civilian plane? Or floating giant fish out in outer space, any weird stuff like that?
KS: [Laughs] You know, I don’t really think I’m at liberty to say.

Timeline for Kickstarter

CG: Haha, ok. Any update on when that Kickstarter will be? I’ve heard April 19th at the latest, but I also heard this coming Saturday. Any update on that?
KS: Yeah, we are shooting to get that up as soon as possible. The 18th would be ideal. We’ve even been talking about doing it sooner if that would be possible, but it looks like the 18th is probably a solid date, but certainly within there, give or take a day or two. We need to do it right. And right now, the Ninja Division guys are just-, since they’re doing 99% of the work on the Kickstarter itself, I mean they’re just busting their backs right now to get it all up and done. We’ve been going in and mostly pointing, you know, “Change this. Fix that. Tweak that. Here’s a better image. Here’s a suggestion. Here’s a this. Oh yeah, that’s approved.” That sort of thing. And they’re doing all the heavy lifting on this, so whatever they can get done and how quick they can do it and make it look good. Because we don’t just want to crap it out. And, of course, Harmony Gold has to take a look at it and approve it and hopefully that’ll simply be a matter of a quick look and approval, but that could be… some delays if they want us to change something or tweak something, but they’ve been great to work with so far. We’ve been getting good, quick approvals from them. They’re super-excited about this project too. On 04.16.13 Kevin Siembieda emailed that the Kickstarter will be THURSDAY.

Robotech Live Action Movie: No Real News

CG: Of course they should be. So the pressure’s on for me so I need to type this up pretty quickly. Do you know anything about the Live Action movie or is that in development hell? What do you know?
KS: Uhhhhh, yeah, I guess I don’t really know anything officially.
CG: Ok, so obviously it would benefit everyone involved, but you also have no control over that, right?
KS: I have absolutely no control over that and I’ve heard some rumors that it’s in development – and by the way those rumors did NOTcome from Harmony Gold, so … I really don’t know if it’s in development or not.

The 2006 Palladium Plea to Fans and Kickstarter

CG: You made a very public plea years ago in 2006 for funding and support from your fans. So now in conjunction with Ninja Division, you’re going to be Kickstarting; do you see those as any different?
KS: I guess yes and no? It’s different in that the circumstances were certainly different, but yeah, ironically we kind of did crowdfunding before we even realized-, well, actually before crowdfunding even existed. In 2006 we were just in those desperate straits of having basically been sabotaged with embezzlement and theft that put us on the verge of bankruptcy. And we were in desperate straits and there was just no way to raise the kind of revenue we needed to stay alive and I came up with the idea of-, gosh, we’d been around at the time for 25 years and what if we went to our fans and said, “Hey, this is what’s going on. We’re in desperate straits. And if you’re planning on buying books, please buy them now.” And “Here’s a bunch of special items, prints and things, T-shirts that we’re making now to fund all this and keep us from going out of business.” The fans were just phenomenal. It was unbelievable. It was nothing short of a miracle. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, which is pretty incredible, because they turned a nightmare situation into something wonderful and beautiful. Because in addition to just the financial support we got all these emails and phone calls and letters, just espousing how much they loved us and the products, you know, “Thank you for doing these.” And “We’re not going to let you go out of business.” Yeah, it was pretty incredible! But obviously this is a much more formalized thing. I think crowdfunding through companies like Kickstarter is fantastic! Especially in the new, sort of global economic environment that we’re in. It’s so hard to find one or two investors willing to pump in X amount of money and it’s great if you can go to the people who actually know your stuff and love your stuff and want to support your stuff and get them to put in the money. It’s a win-win for everyone, because they get cool product and you get the resources you need to do those cool products. Yeah, it’s a great idea.

Siembieda on RIFTS and Possibility of Rifts RPG Tactics

CG: There were RIFTS miniatures in the 1990s produced with RAFM. Any comment this early on on whether we might see a Spider Skull Walker in resin anytime soon?
KS: [Laughs] That’s a great question! I don’t know about someday soon, but yeah, we would love to see that. We would love to see a RIFTS tabletop game and yeah, wait till you guys see some of the designs in the Northern Gun books. Oh man! There could be some beautiful, epic RIFTS battles, man. It’d be great, yeah. We’d love to see that. But we’re not counting our chickens before they hatch and we have NO plans. I don’t want to start any rumors. We have no plans to do a RIFTS tactical game at this time.
CG: None? Really? Ok. So at least this will give you guys a chance to see how the process works and so on with Kickstarter and everything else. If you did it, it seems like Kickstarter [or crowdfunding] would be involved.
KS: Oh yeah, absolutely. If we did do a RIFTS RPG Tactics game line, we would certainly do it as a Kickstarter-funded thing. I’m not saying we’re not going to do it, I’m just saying that we’re trying to stay focused [laughs] on what we have now. Once we launch this, if it’s as successful as everyone seems to think it is- because everyone from the Ninja guys to the gaming base that we are tapped into to our distributors, – everyone seems to think that it’s going to be a big deal. Everyone seems excited about it. So yeah, if this is the success we think it will be, then after we have Robotech in all eras of Robotech in the pipeline to come out as part of this game line, then we’ll think about what we might do with RIFTS. But yeah, I think it’d be a hoot to do it.

The Success of RIFTS

CG: RIFTS, compared to Robotech… RIFTS of course came out later, but it seems to be the flagship product for Palladium Books, right?
KS: Yeah! Oh yeah, in fact our first big hit game was Ninja Turtles. Our next big hit game was Robotech and then our – chronologically – our third big hit game was RIFTS. But RIFTS eclipsed both of those. Yeah, it was just a mega-hit. People love the thing. It’s been around for twenty-some years now and still going strong.
CG: Any figures on number of books published for RIFTS?
KS: Oh god! [Laughs] Including sourcebooks and things? Millions. I think the- Oh gosh! I should have those numbers at my fingertips. I think RIFTS Core Rulebooks alone- I should say the RPG and the RIFTS Ultimate Edition, you know, the two versions of the core rules have sold something in the neighborhood of 350,000 copies. So yeah, it’s pretty strong. There’s got to be a dozen source books for Rifts – World Books – that have sold 100,000 copies all by themselves. But a lot of that goes back to the heyday of the ’90s when RIFTS was kicking and roleplaying was just hot. The first six Rifts titles all hit 100,000 or more. So, yeah. It was big! When we came out with RIFTS we printed 10,000 copies and thought, “This is a three month supply if the game is as hot as we think it will be.” And we sold out in three weeks and we were like “Holy crap!” And we pressed 20,000 the next time around and that sold out in like two months. Yeah, we knew we had something special at that point.
CG: Well, I wish you the greatest of success in a similar way with Robotech RPG Tactics then!
KS: Thank you, Brant. I appreciate that.

2013 GAMA Trade Show Exhibitors’ Hall: Impact Miniatures

Impact! Miniatures was exhibiting again at the 2013 GAMA Trade Show. Since speaking with company owner Tom Anders at the 2012 GTS, the Impact City Roller Derby game successfully Kickstarted and was on its 16th backer update while at the 2013 show. Anders confirmed that the roller derby girls were off the docks at Boston and on the jam, heading towards Impact Miniatures’ warehouse. Game Salute will be offering the game in April with Impact! itself following in May.

Chibi Dungeon Adventurers: Chibi Crawl

The first of the new products that Impact Miniatures was highlighting is its line of chibi dungeon figures for the upcoming Chibi Crawl game being designed by Glenn McClune. The Chibi Dungeon Adventurers range has 103 spin-cast plastic figures ranging in price from $5 for adventurers up to $12-15 for larger monsters and tops out at the $25 five-headed Hydra. While the Hydra is already available for purchase online at the Impact! website, the rest of the lineup will be available in May.

Five-headed plastic chibi Hydra with wings on display stand at GAMA Trade Show

The Flagship Chibi Dungeon Figure: The Five-Headed Hydra for $25

Among the $12-$15 monster crowd, fans of chibi cuteness can expect to find a Djinn, a Troll, a Chimera, a Basilisk, Cthulu, and an adorable Balrog. More startlingly though, fans of the 1980s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon may recognize the one-horned, winged form of Venger and the distinctive fat head of Dungeon Master. A club-wielding Barbarian and a female Acrobat are also among Impact!’s offerings.

Three plastic Impact Miniatures, Dungeon Master, Barbarian with Club, and Unicorn in display case

Chibi Dungeon Cuteness: Smug Dungeon Master, Barbarian, and Unicorn Pegasus

As Krosmaster Arena continues to exceed funding on Kickstarter and with successful expansions of Super Dungeon Explore from Soda Pop Miniatures, the sub-genre of chibi fantasy is beginning to swell. Anders has capitalized on the market perfectly. In looking over the figures on display, Impact has also offered at least three sculpts sure to delight any brony, including a feisty Unicorn Pegasus and a larger more fiendish Nitemare.

Miniature display case in foreground with tentacled Cthulu and pony while Tom Anders is in background smiling

Anders Smiles Behind Just a Fraction of His Chibi Range Including Unicorns and Cthulu

New Dice

Tom Anders also had new dice to show, including the rarer breeds of d5s, d7s, d14s, d18s, and d22s. Anders has an “if you build it, they will come” approach with these new dice, pointing to Freeblades’ use of the d14 as a potential application. A major selling point for the opaque dice is that Impact! Miniatures has arranged for them to be color matched to a variety of Chessex opaque dice sets for color purists.

Five-sided dice, seven-sided dice, and a D12 and D14 on red background

Selection of New Dice from Impact! Miniatures: d5s, d7s, and a d14 next to a d12

On a Collision Course with Ian Douglass

At Gen Con 2012, I took the opportunity to play the miniature skirmish game Collision against its creator, Ian Douglass. Douglass, who heads New World Gaming Company, managed a close victory with a frustratingly-effective archer. We caught up on September 8 about Collision, which is available for free download on Douglass’s site.

Overview of Collision

Ian Douglass at Gen Con 2012 in Indianapolis, Designer of Collision

Collision Game Designer Ian Douglass

CG: How long has Collision been in development?
ID: In its current form about three years. It has been kind of a long slog since I have been doing it in my free time.
CG: And by current form you mean as a miniature game and not a D&D setting?
ID: Yes. Collision started out as a D&D setting, and eventually I tried to develop a simplified version of the combat system for larger battles. Through revision it departed more and more from D&D, and after a while I decided that it could be its own game.
CG: So the campaign events at Gen Con? Did those go off? What were they like?
ID: They did go off, and they were a run of a basic campaign in where each battle is tied to the next. However there were fewer battles than I had first planned for because each battle took so long
CG: Who were the players? Had they played Collision before?
ID: Some of the players were friends of mine, some were first-time players, but most had played in one of the intro battles and wanted to play larger battles. I was worried that I wouldn’t actually have enough players to run them, but it turned out to be a great few events.
CG: Yeah, I know from some other game designers, that some of the planned events don’t really happen as intended. Now do you play Collision yourself in this series of campaign games and what sort of things developed for the Gen Con players?
ID: I only participated in a couple of the battles myself. The basic story was that the Necromancer Virgil had suffered a major defeat and was attempting to re-take his captured bodyguard.
CG: And did he?
ID: When I had designed the forces and the scenarios I was worried that Virgil and his forces would be over-powered. The players also felt that the forces were un-balanced, but he was sorely defeated at every turn. Instead of a ride to conquest and re-capture, the campaign turned into the story of Virgil’s death.
CG: Awesome.
ID: I had intended for him to die, but not this soon. He will be coming back though, he’s a Necromancer after all.

Gridded Game Board for Miniature Game Collision at Gen Con 2012

A Game of Collision in Progress on a Rocky Gridded Game Board

The World of Collision

Photograph of game card for Collision for Attendant of the 5 Dragons

The Stat Card for the Attendant of the 5 Dragons

CG: So when we played at Gen Con, I used a Noble Duelist and an Attendant of the 5 Dragons, do these instantly ring a bell with you and you can picture what they look like in the land of Gea automatically?
ID: Yes, the Noble Duelist is a bodyguard of the court of Deadholm, the northern city-state where Virgil is from. The duelist was a red elf and a formidable one at that. The Attendant of the 5 Dragons is a mage from Deadholm who serves Chimeras (essentially dragons), but the 5 oldest Chimeras in particular. The Attendants study magical disciplines that mimic the capabilities of those 5 Chimeras, mainly death, fire, corrosion, frost, and electricity.
CG: Which is why you thought I might have a special power for one of those elements or damage types, I guess.
ID: Yes, that Attendant in particular mastered Corrosive magic.
CG: Going back, what era and edition of D&D did Collision begin as a campaign in?
ID: 3.5 Edition D&D, and my first campaign in Gea as a setting was in 2005.
CG: So a Red Elf, when it was a D&D campaign, are they just regular elves or something a bit different?
ID: For Gea I developed two Elven sub-races: White Elves and Red Elves. Red Elves were more like Wild Elves as far as their stats were concerned, high strength and dexterity. In personality they are impulsive, prone to anger, and make great fighters and soldiers, whereas the White Elves were more frail but magically potent. They are calm and detached and make for powerful wizards or clerics. Naturally they are mortal enemies.
CG: Excellent, I see. And these named characters, Virgil and Rhona, were any of these PCs or NPCs?
ID: Virgil existed as a PC during one campaign years ago, and moved to an NPC role when that particular campaign game to a close. Rhona on the other hand was a PC more recently. Virgil is one of my old characters, whereas Rhona was one of my sister’s characters.
CG: Even better, because I was just about to ask if all of the artwork on your website was Alexandra Douglass’. So she’s your sister?
ID: Yes, though she goes by Lexxy. Apart from the world map which was illustrated by Sarah Williams, all of the art in Collision is drawn by Lexxy at the moment.
CG: How much direction have you given her as to what your world looks like and how much are things that she has come up with?
ID: In this project I have given a lot of direction, providing written description, sketches, tone. Since Lexxy is my sister, her ability to bring my visions to life is unparalleled. There is another project I am developing which I just gave her rough descriptions of monsters and she produced perfect sketches of what I had in mind.
CG: Is she your twin? Who’s older?
ID: She is 4 years older than me, but we grew up with very similar interests. We both grew up with D&D from a young age, so we are both heavily influenced by games. She was inspired to illustrate with the intention of creating art for games, and I was inspired to design games.
CG: As close as the two of you are, what’s it like to share world-building with another person? Is it quite different from being the all-powerful DM?
ID: I never took the DM role with an iron fist. I always liked to involve my players in the creative process, and bouncing ideas back and forth with other people is often how the best things come up.
CG: Gotcha.

Getting Physical with Collision: Mechanics and Crunch

CG: One of the abilities or mechanics that stands out in a unit’s stat card for Collision is the Tarot. What’s the story there?
ID: In its earlier stages, the game had nothing to do with Tarot. In its place characters had a class and a level, but I wanted to separate Collision from D&D more. I dabble in tarot reading, so I came to the realization that there were 4 suits in the minor arcana, and 4 classes in Collision. Plus, the major arcana such as the Tower, and Strength allowed me to create special circumstances for named characters. So in essence a character’s tarot is both who they are and their destiny. However minor arcana characters can change their destinies, but major arcana characters can’t.
CG: What little I know of Tarot comes from the anime series Escaflowne, which features tarot heavily. So for you, since tarot wasn’t initially part of Collision, has it been about digging into your own fluff and really boiling down a character or unit to a tarot card and finding focus there?
ID: Actually the decision to include tarot led to an expansion of fluff rather than a refining of it. As much as a would alter a character to suit a card, I found myself coming up with new ideas because of the tarot. I had to find a place for the characters I already had, but there was so much room. For example who is Death? who is the Devil? who is the Sun? These are all questions I now have to answer, and it will help me grow the game and the content.
CG: Well, what are Virgil and Rhona’s Tarot?
ID: Virgil is the Tower. The short story “The Fall of Virgil” illustrates that Virgil is a character defined by tragedy. Rhona is Strength, and it isn’t just because she is physically powerful either. I am working on her next story to include in the Campaign Battles beta.
CG: What about the underlying points values for building your own units: how much time has that aspect taken to balance and playtest and tweak?
ID: There were a few big overhauls of the character creation system over the years. In its first iteration I was more or less assigning points values based on gut instinct. That system had enough problems that I did a basic analysis of the value of each of the stats starting with a stat line that was meant to be the average weak character. I then came about giving points values to individual stat increases, and assigned costs to more abstract things such as abilities or effects through gut instinct. Then years of testing and tweaking and testing and tweaking. It was hard enough to balance characters, and even harder to balance a system used to create characters.
CG: Yeah, I can’t really imagine. It’s very daunting. But you’re still revising the character creation, right?
ID: Yes, though the newest system will be easier for me to test. I’m not sure there will ever be a time when the character creation system is really balanced, but the point isn’t to create a game meant for competitive play and perfect builds. I believe that I will settle on point costs for this batch of material by the end of 2012 or in early 2013, but I will be adding more options that will need testing, and I will be trying to create and balance the major arcana characters throughout the process. The goal is to have a set of three books, the Core Rulebook, Character Creation Guide, and Campaign Battles, all finished by Gen Con 2013, and funded by a Kickstarter.
CG: Ok, great. I suppose that the dimensions of a game of Collision are not really set. You just need a playing grid, right? I see you suggest 28-30mm miniatures with a 1.5 inch grid, but anything could work really. 15mm or Legos or big Playmobil fantasy figures if that’s your thing.
ID: Sure! also, 1.25″ squares work quite well printed out on 8.5″x11″ sheets of paper, so potentially the game could be played with pogs and graph paper.
CG: But a hex map is too much of a stretch and doesn’t match the mechanics?
ID: Not in this iteration of the rules, but assuming things go well for collision in the coming year, I will be working on variations for collision that can be played on a hex map, or even without a grid entirely.

Gridded Game Board for Collision Miniature Board Game at Gen Con 2012

The Rocky Playing Board for Collision

CG: Besides the rocky boards we played on at Gen Con, I also see that you have a board made with Hirst Arts floor tiles, but that you’re also making your own tiles. How’s that coming along?
ID: I haven’t been able to make too much progress on that front in the past couple of months because of Gen Con, but I will be refining the rocky tiles, in addition to other tile sets to be cast in resin. I will also be experimenting with casting large elevation terrain with the tile designs built-in out of expanding foam resin. I have plans for ruins tiles, dirt, desert, wasteland, marsh/beaches, and water tiles. And there will even be a couple styles of dungeon or interior building tiles for battles that take place in buildings, dungeons, and caves.
CG: So I have to ask: besides selling any tiles, how do you plan on making money with Collision if you can use other companies’ miniatures and can download the rules for free? Or is it more about having the experience and having Collision under your belt for future work?
ID: I intend to produce tiles and terrain to sell, and printed versions of the rulebook for people who prefer to have a nice looking copy of the rules. Beyond that I am considering designing campaign supplements that are not free. I am also interested in creating starter sets for Collision that include miniatures, which would be a good base-line for if someone doesn’t already have a collection. The bottom line was always that Collision wasn’t meant to make money. I want to write games, and the only way to get a job writing games is to write games. Also, I’m a college student, and as much as I love miniatures, I can’t drop a couple hundred dollars every time I want to play a new miniature game. I wanted to design the game I wished existed, so I did.

How Ian Douglass Got Into Gaming: Jeff Grub’s Influence and Family Gaming

CG: Yes, before we get to your college major, who got you and Lexxy into D&D?
ID: My dad Matthew Douglass, who played D&D in college with Jeff Grubb.
CG: Wow, the Jeff Grubb.
ID: Yep, they were college buddies. A couple of years ago I got in touch with Jeff Grubb and told him that I was Matt Douglass’s son and that I wanted to design games, and he gave me some great advice.
CG: Let’s hear it!
ID: Well the part I remember most was that he told me don’t do it.
CG: Haha.
ID: He told me just don’t and that it was hard and dissapointing, not rewarding, and ultimately sucked the fun out of games. Then he waited for my response and I told him that I have to do it, that I couldn’t help myself, and that I wouldn’t be satisfied not writing games. That if I weren’t getting payed to do it I would be doing it for free in my free time. His response was great, because if being told not to write games by Jeff Grubb didn’t discourage me then I had enough drive to do it. He told me some of what he said was true, that it was hard and discouraging, but that if its what you love to do, and you are prepared to have a day job some of the time to do it, then I’m on the right track. I haven’t contacted him in a while, and I think I will to let him know how far I’ve gotten since then.
CG: Should be interesting! Was your father your first DM and how old were you?
ID: I was 6 or 7, and he was my first DM. He ran a campaign that used a mix of 1st and 2nd edition rules, and Lexxy and I each played two characters occasionally joined by Mom’s character. I remember that campaign very well, better than anything else from when I was that age.
CG: What was the setting or what went on?
ID: The setting was very basic. We started in a small city, went to the tavern, and overheard that that there was adventure to be had in Dungeon-01 just outside the city. So we bought supplies and went. He wrote the dungeon in college and it was pretty huge. I remember it being the ruins of a castle that had mostly collapsed, that there were stairs carved in the stone leading to an iron gate that was bent out of shape and Lexxy’s paladin, George, who had a pathetically low Dex score, fell down the stairs.
CG: So it was a real dungeon delve typical of first edition.
ID: Totally. But there were features in that dungeon that heavily influenced me as a DM. I remember finding a chainsaw, and none of our characters had ever seen one before. Finding a single running shoe in a room that was a small jungle. Finding the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python’s Holy Grail and having a 20 miniute discussion with a mimic.
CG: I can begin to imagine. So were there ever any threats growing up of no more D&D if you didn’t behave or do chores?
ID: Not that I remembered. D&D was what we would do on Friday nights. We got to stay up late and have root beer and popcorn. I lived for those nights, and I probably could have been convinced to do anything to keep it that way.
CG: Have you turned the tables and been your father’s DM in the world of Gea and Collision?
ID: Only for a couple of sessions. Once I got a bit older and started having adventures of my own, Dad didn’t really have enough time to keep playing, so I took on the DM role and taught my friends to play. Every once in a while I create a module and have Dad and Lexxy, and my younger brother Logan play, since Logan wasn’t around at the time of the family campaigns. Logan is only 10, so I’m a good 12 years older than him.
CG: So Logan is 10, but when you were 10 you developed a card game. What was it?
ID: It was Mythica: Battle of the Greek Gods. Of course it never got further than a paper prototype, It was a basic card game with 3 decks: Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon. Each deck had a character card to represent the Greek god, it had monsters and spells true to their legends, and it was fairly easy to play too. I played with the friends in my new neighborhood when we moved from Ohio to Indiana.
CG: Interesting. Did you pick the brothers for a reason and did you ever think “Hmmn, why not add Hermes or Apollo?” or is it because they each have their realm, earth, sky, oceans?
ID: Well I had the intention to expand it to include other gods as well, but I figured Zeus and Hades disputed often enough to make them good and evil, and Poseidon I thought of as more neutral. In my mind they made points of a triangle and thus were perfect for a rock, paper, scissors type of mechanic. Even then I was worried about balance. But I lost interest after a few playtests; I was more interested in Lego at the time, and just starting to get curious about Warhammer.
CG: Perfect segue, so what miniature games have you played in your background?
ID: Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Confrontation, Mage Knight, Hero Clix, Ronin, Chainmail, Warmachine, D&D Minis, Pirates of the Spanish Main, Battletech, Battlefleet Gothic, Anima Tactics, and a few others that don’t quite come to mind.
CG: What do you still play today?
ID: I still have my Warhammer and Warhammer 40k armies, but I haven’t played in some time. I don’t really play any of them today. I play D&D, Magic: the Gathering, and board games for the most part. The rest of my time is spent designing and testing my own games.
CG: Collision: board game or miniature game? Or is it just semantics?
ID: I conisder all miniature games to be board games, but not all board games to be miniature games. Collision is at least a miniature game I would say.
CG: More of a board game than a true war game though?
ID: No, I would call it a skirmish war game. Mostly because players bring their own components.
CG: Even though Heroscape has some of the same elements, Collision to me, at least visually with your boards, kind of has more of a chess/Shuuro/Go feel to it.
ID: I could see that, and I do lean heavily on chess motifs in the design and feel of the game. Others have compared it to Final Fantasy Tactics.
CG: Yes, yes, visually, Final Fantasy Tactics and some various Xbox Live Arcade games as well.

Game Studies at Indiana University

CG: Now what is your major all about at Indiana University?
ID: My major is actually Philosophy. I’m finishing up my last year, and I’m adding a certificate in Game Studies through the Telecom department as well.
CG: Yes, so Game Studies is what I’m after. What do you do for that?
ID: I do three things in abundance: play games, write stories, and create games. More of the latter two. In one class we play and discuss board games and mechanics and design games, and in another class the class of 12 or so students all work as a team to design a video game in a semester. I also pick up HTML, some basic programming, and a ton of writing and production skills.
CG: So this video game design class? Is that over? Current?
ID: Current. I’m the producer, and the game we are working on is called Doppelganger.
CG: Realistically, what can your expectations be? Is it just a class project to be forgotten or do you think you’ll have something enjoyable for others to play?
ID: We plan to publish it through the Xbox Live Arcade, and if we can get enough Kickstarter funding we plan to try to port it to mobile devices. A previous class completed a game called Warp Shooter which is on Xbox Live Arcade now actually. It’ll be fun, people will want to play it, and people will be able to buy it. or we fail.
CG: What were the format restrictions, if any? Is it more about your fellow students picking something of mutual interest?
ID: As a group we have to decide what is feasible, and the professor occasionally vetos ideas that are too ambitious, but the group is called Hoosier Games, and there is also a club that follows the same format as the class that I participate in as well.
CG: What’s an example of something that was too ambitious for past groups?
ID: There was a project where students tried to create an RPG that was choked by feature creep.
CG: What perspective?
ID: I’m actually not sure, I didn’t have a hand in it myself, so I’ve only heard people talk about it. I think it was a mobile game where you train a monster, play mini-games, and battle with and interact with other mobile users. But I’ve worked as a level designer for the iOs game Melodus which may be worked on more this year as well.
CG: What percent of your fellow Game Studies’ students would you say want to do something novel and innovative versus some who just want to play games and make a WoW/Modern Warfare/Settlers of Catan clone?
ID: Actually no one seems to want to do something overdone. Each person is invested in designing something familiar, but with mechanics or twists that make it something new and unusual. I’m sure there are Game Studies students that disagree, but a vast majority, 85% or more probably, are innovators, but not just doing something different for the sake of it.
CG: So that must be a stimulating environment. So how has your Game Studies program impacted Collision?
ID: In one of the classes I have an opportunity to earn points for an independent initiative style project. I proposed to set up a Kickstarter for Collision and document the process, and it will be worth almost a third of my grade. But more importantly it has pushed me to work on new ideas as well. I have two other games I’ll be working on this year to playtest at Gen Con 2013, and a basic pub game that I designed in 10 minutes for a class assignment that I may actually publish.
CG: And by pub game, does that mean beer and pretzels?
ID: Yes, and it adapts easily to be a drinking game.
CG: But were you being quite literal and that it was designed to be played in a bar or pub?
ID: Yes, one of my objectives was to create a game that could be played easily at the Ram, since I found myself there a few times this year with friends and I kept thinking, “I need to design a pub game.”
CG: That’s the bar in Indianapolis frequented by many gamers during Gen Con?
ID: It sure is! I’ve already had some excellent playtesting, so I may be trying to build a more polished prototype of it soon.

Game of skirmish miniature game Collision at Gen Con in 2012

A Different Game of Collision at Gen Con Featuring Necromancy

The Future of Collision

CG: Moving back to Collision’s future, I scanned through the current 87-page rulebook and can see that the game is very much in development. I also saw that you’re soliciting feedback on the game. When do you think you’ll have a more finalized version of the core rulebook? I know Gen Con 2012 is your goal for three books, but when would the core have to be pretty finalized by?
ID: I have a stack of edits to make to the core rules, and I will be making some minor adjustments beyond that. It will likely be finished by the end of December 2012 if not sooner, with the character creation and campaign battle rules in the summer of 2013.
CG: Will the end rules be more like a Warhammer or Warmachine rule book and you’ll need three that size? Do you have an ideal page count goal?
ID: Actually the core rulebook likely won’t exceed 100 pages at its current dimensions, and given that the character creation and campaign battles books are both optional material, they should need just the one book to play. As it stands the rulebook should be hardly bigger than it is, and the other two books roughly the same length but it’s hard to tell. The complexity in Collision is limited to the special abilities and effects of the characters, not the core rules, so the rulebook will remain quite small.
CG: Now where will your created characters be found, like Virgil or the Attendant of the 5 Dragons.
ID: I’ll be working on a batch of characters today and tomorrow, and they will get their own post on my blog. In the future I plan to have sample characters available on the site, as well as decks of pre-build characters based around the different values and factions for those players who want high quality cards. When the Character Creation Guide is complete, I will also include a section of pre-made characters with illustrations and flavor text. Also, we may be working on a character creator app soon, so players can select options for characters which automatically generates a card for the character, and a character manager for storing, printing, and sharing characters.
CG: Thanks, Ian.
ID: Excellent! Thanks for the interview!